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Several Arrests in Vietnam, Major Bank Faces Run As a Result

Story 1: Vietnamese Bank Faces Run After Tycoon’s Arrest

By Ho Binh Minh, Reuters, Hanoi – August 23, 2012

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/23/us-vietnam-bank

(Reuters) – A major Vietnamese bank founded by arrested tycoon Nguyen Duc Kien faced a run on deposits on Thursday, witnesses said, but the central bank has injected funds into the banking system and assured jittery residents their money is safe.

Monday’s arrest of Kien, 48, sent shockwaves through the Communist-run country, triggering a 9.2 percent slide in the stock market this week and causing depositors to pull funds from Asia Commercial Bank (ACB), one of Vietnam’s biggest lenders, which Kien helped found in 1994.

Withdrawals began on Tuesday when the arrest was made public. By Thursday, crowds had formed at ACB’s branches in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s business center, residents said. At one branch, depositors shoved tables aside to try to reach bank tellers, a witness said.

The central bank said the entire banking sector “will commit to standing ready to provide, funding support to ACB to ensure it meets its obligations for repaying deposits”.

It pumped 13 trillion dong ($624 million) into the banking system on Wednesday and another 4 trillion on Thursday.

Outside ACB’s headquarters, two dozen cars lined up and about 70 depositors crowded the transaction office, a witness said, as confidence dwindled in the financial system of what a few years ago was one of world’s hottest emerging markets.

“I have some cash in ACB but since the bank belongs to the same system controlled by the central bank, it does not mean much to withdraw cash from one bank to put it in another, as all in the system face the same risk,” one ACB depositor said in a telephone interview from Ho Chi Minh City.

The bank’s chief executive officer, Ly Xuan Hai, widely believed to be detained by police, had submitted his resignation, ACB said late on Thursday.

He was replaced by Deputy Chief Executive Officer Do Minh Toan, who has been running the bank this week and told state media earlier that depositors took out 5 trillion dong ($240 million) from ACB on Wednesday. As of June 30, the bank’s deposits totaled 145.62 trillion dong ($7 billion), up 2.4 percent from a year earlier, according to the bank.

Kien, a well-connected tycoon and one of Vietnam’s highest-profile bankers, held less than 5 percent of ACB’s stock. The government said he played no part in managing the bank, which is 15 percent owned by British bank Standard Chartered Plc.

Kien is chairman of B&B Investment and Trade Joint Stock Co, ACB Hanoi Investment Joint Stock Co and Asia Hanoi Financial Investment Co, and the alleged violations concerned these firms, the police ministry said.

He was accused of running unlicensed businesses. His three companies were established to invest in real-estate projects while they raised funds and invested the proceeds in bank shares instead, state media said.

Gold Prices Jump, Currency Falls

Economists were already worried about the fragility of Vietnam’s banking system and some Vietnamese have quickly turned to the traditional safe haven of gold: bankers said demand had jumped from Monday, pushing up the retail price by about 5 percent.

The dong has fallen 0.3 percent since Monday against the dollar.

The main stock market has slid for three consecutive days, trading at a six-month low on Thursday when it lost 4.5 percent. On Tuesday, it posted its biggest daily loss since October 2008. ACB’s stock price has slumped 18.6 percent this week, losing 6.7 percent on Thursday. The bank is valued at about $1 billion.

But some experts doubted the panic would spread.

“I wouldn’t think we are going to see a lot of contagion,” said Jonathan Pincus, dean of the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program in Ho Chi Minh City and a former Vietnam economic specialist at the United Nations.

“The State Bank acted quickly and provided liquidity immediately,” he added.

The banking sector has been hit by high inflation and rising bad debt stemming from losses at big state firms in particular. At the end of March, 8.6 percent of all loans in Vietnam were bad, the highest in Southeast Asia, central bank data showed.

Pincus and other experts said ACB should weather the crisis but that plenty of other Vietnamese banks remain in difficulty.

“The immediate problems are for those banks that are heavily overextended in the property market and which are owned by one or two families or groups. Those banks, of which there are many, are very vulnerable. But ACB is not one of those,” said Pincus.

Bankers said ACB and several small banks had been borrowing short-term funds on the interbank market to ensure liquidity. The fixing on overnight dong loans eased to 7.14 percent on Thursday after surging to 7.5 percent the previous day from 4 percent at the start of the week, Reuters data showed.

Deputy CEO Toan was quoted in state media as saying the volume of cash withdrawn from ACB was higher on Wednesday than Tuesday. Toan, who is in charge of the bank in the absence of the CEO, said ACB could access up to 46 trillion dong ($2.2 billion) if needed.

It had borrowed 10 trillion dong from the central bank on August 21-22 and could also gradually withdraw 36 trillion dong from the interbank market, Toan said. That is about a third of the total weekly transactions on the interbank dong market of between 110 trillion and 130 trillion dong over the past month.

Kien’s family is ranked fifth among Vietnam’s 30 richest families in terms of stock market holdings, based on a list compiled by online news website VNExpress. He is also deputy chairman of the Vietnam Professional Football Joint Stock Co, which runs Vietnam’s top-tier professional soccer league.

($1=20,860 dong)

Story 2: Three Vietnamese Big Guys Arrested Within 20 Days

sage:  This article says ‘three big guys arrested within 20 days’, yet, there are actually five arrests reported, with the remaining two being no less than the Chair and Deputy Chair of a major securities firm.  While they may not be classified as ‘tycoons’ their arrests are still part of the ongoing mass arrest/containment procedure.

Complied by Kim Chi, VietnamNet – August 24, 2012

http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/business/25996/three-vietnamese-big-guys-arrested-within-20-days.html

VietNamNet Bridge – The public has been dazed by the sudden news about the arrest of Nguyen Duc Kien, one of the most influential portraits in the Vietnamese business circle, and has started in surprise that three tycoons have been arrested just within 20 days of August.

The Ministry of Public Security arrested Nguyen Duc Kien on August 20 evening at his home, a villa in the West Lake area in Hanoi.

Kien has reportedly been arrested for his wrongdoings relating to three companies which have denounced the behaviors of Kien. These include the B&B Investment and Trade Joint Stock Company, the ACB Hanoi Investment Joint Stock Company and A Chau Hanoi Finance Investment Company Ltd.

Kien has been well known in Vietnam as a multitalented businessman. This explains why he succeeded in many different business fields and held important posts in businesses, from the chair of a bank to the chair of a bitumen joint venture, a shareholder of a of a fashion company to a chair of a football club.

In 1994-2008, Kien held the post of Deputy Chair of ACB Bank and once worked as the General Director of the bank for a period. In 2008, Kien and some other founding shareholders withdrew from the board of directors to form up a founders’ council comprising of six members.

Kien has been well known as a big investor in football. He was Chair of Hanoi ACB Football Club, Deputy Chair of the Vietnam Professional Football Company. He recently made a lot of shocking statements believed to create a revolution in the Vietnamese football.

The Hai Phong’s Famous Tycoons

Pham Van Thu, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Thai Son Company and his son, Pham Hai Thanh, the two famous tycoons in the port city of Hai Phong were arrested on August 8, 2012.

The two big businessmen in the steel industry have been prosecuted for their behaviors of swindling and appropriating assets relating to the bank loans.

The arrest also caused a big surprise to the public, because the two businessmen were believed to “do business in a correct and legal way.”

In 1995, Thu established Thai Son Company which then specialized in trading scrap steel and old ship devastation. In 2007, Thu expanded his business by jumping into the shipbuilding sector, ingot steel manufacturing and real estate. At that time, the company had the average turnover of 4 trillion dong a year.

In 2011, Thai Son was named in the list of the 500 private biggest businesses in Vietnam. It has been recognized as the biggest steel import and export company in Hai Phong City. The good reputation allowed the company to easily access bank loans.

However, since the steel price fell down by 50 percent in economic crisis in 2008, Thai Son bogged down in difficulties with the big inventories of 80,000 tons, which then led to the loss of 250 billion dong.

Thai Son also incurred the loss in the contract with ALCII, a finance leasing company on building three ships. ALCII became insolvent and stopped disbursement.

The defeats, plus the overly high bank loan interest rate of 24 percent, has pushed Thai Son against the wall. It could not pay debts, leading the company’s debts reaching 752 billion dong by February 2012. Thai Son is still owing 180 billion dong to other seven companies.

However, Thu still tried to play tricks to obtain capital to maintain production by borrowing new loans to get money to pay for old debts.

SME Securities’ Chair

On August 2, Phan Huy Chi, Chair and CEO of SME Securities was arrested for his behavior of appropriating assets.

Pham Minh Tuan, Deputy Chair of SME Securities was also arrested on the same day.

Sources said that Tuan instructed his staff to forge documents to sign contracts on capital contribution to invest in a batch of stocks. He received 107 billion dong from an insurance company and could not pay money back.

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