HANOI (Reuters) - A former head of Vietnam’s second largest listed bank, the Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), died in detention on Thursday, state media and three sources with direct knowledge of the situation said.
Tran Bac Ha was arrested in November last year in a widening crackdown on corruption in the Southeast Asian country, which has seen its Communist-ruled government launch investigations into hundreds of public officials and several executives at state-owned enterprises jailed.
Ha had not stood trial and was being held at a military detention center near Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital, the Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.
The 63-year-old, who had previously traveled to Singapore for treatment of a liver condition, died from an unspecified illness, the newspaper reported, without elaborating.
Three sources with direct knowledge of Ha’s death confirmed the Tuoi Tre report to Reuters. Calls to the Ministry of Public Security, the authority which first arrested Ha, went unanswered.
The Communist Party of Vietnam said last year that Ha and two other executives at the bank had committed regulatory violations by lending 4.7 trillion dong ($202.5 million) to 12 companies involved in a corruption case at Vietnam Construction Bank before the State Bank of Vietnam took it over.
Ha had been viewed as one of Vietnam’s most powerful bankers, and was often seen traveling on official visits with the then prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung.
BIDV said in a statement shortly after Ha’s 2018 arrest that it had been reporting on him and other executives at the bank to the authorities, and that its operations had not been negatively affected by the scandal.
Reporting by Khanh Vu and Kham Nguyen; Editing by James Pearson, Robert Birsel