Real Estate Tycoon Sentenced To Death In Vietnam Fraud Case

Truong My Lan was at the center of the sprawling fraud case and was accused of embezzling as much as $12.5 billion. A court sentenced her to death on Thursday during an anti-corruption crackdown in Vietnam.

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A real estate tycoon was sentenced to death on Thursday for her role in widespread financial fraud in Vietnam, according to news reports.

Truong My Lan, chairwoman of the development company Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group, received the sentence after a month-long trial as the country cracks down on corruption, Reuters reported.

Lan and other defendants were accused of embezzling $12.5 billion from Saigon Commercial Bank through as many as 1,000 shell companies that were all controlled by Lan and her associates.

Thousands of investors lost money in the scandal, according to reports about the case. Hundreds protested in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

Lan’s companies own several high-profile buildings around Vietnam. Foreign investors have signaled to the court overseeing Lan’s case that they’d be interested in taking over the assets in the wake of the trial, Reuters reported.

Those properties include a string of high-end hotels, including Times Square Saigon, one of the tallest buildings in Ho Chi Minh City, Sherwood Residence and Windsor Plaza Hotel. Some of the companies’ buildings remain incomplete. It’s not clear whether the companies own or operate real estate in the U.S., though a quote listed on the company’s website makes that unlikely.

“I believe success should be measured by the ever lasting imprint that one could leave to the sustainable growth of one nation and its people,” according to the quote, which is attributed to Lan.

Investigators have been working to unravel the layers of property holdings owned by Lan’s companies, a process that is difficult because several buildings are still under construction and others may have been used as collateral for loans.

Estimates put the companies’ total assets at a range between $12 billion and $48 billion, Reuters reported.

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