18 defendants are brought to trial in the corruption case (Photo: vnexpress.net)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Hanoi People’s Court opened the first instance trial on December 21 on a corruption case involving over 2.425 trillion VND (107.57 million USD) at a branch of the State-owned Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank).

Thirteen of the 18 defendants are former Agribank officials while four others are former customs officers, and one is a former company director.

They are prosecuted for violating lending regulations in credit institutions’ operation, abusing position and authority while performing duties, and being irresponsible causing serious consequences.

The indictment at the trial said that the Enzo Viet Joint Stock Company, founded in June 2007, registered investment into a weaving – dyeing – garment factory worth nearly 530 billion VND (23.5 million USD) in northern Ninh Binh province.

After three times of changing investment certificates and shareholders, Enzo Viet was renamed Lifepro Viet Nam Joint Venture Company and the weaving – dyeing – garment project renamed the Luxfashion project in early 2011.

Five foreigners, including a Chinese national, three Canadians, and one Italian at Lifepro Viet Nam, are charged with misappropriating assets of Agribank’s South Hanoi branch.

Through changing the legal entity and renaming the weaving – dyeing – garment project, they compiled dossiers to seek loans at the branch to buy machinery, equipment and materials and to transfer six fashion brands. The total misappropriated money exceeded 2.425 trillion VND.

The Ministry of Public Security issued a decision prosecuting the five foreigners for swindling to misappropriate assets. However, they fled Vietnam and police had to suspend the investigation.

From August 2008 to August 2012, Pham Thi Bich Luong – former Director of the South Hanoi branch – asked Agribank’s Board of Directors to raise her authority to approve loans, sign mortgage contracts and disburse loans that the branch had provided for the Lifepro Viet Nam Joint Venture Company, the Vietmade Joint Stock Company and the Lifepro Viet Nam Joint Stock Company.

The indictment said Luong directed the compilation of a dossier seeking more authority to approve loans for the Lifepro Viet Nam Company, basing on only the information given by the firm and not conducting verification.

She also directed and directly engaged in the verification and disbursement of loans for the Lifepro Viet Nam Joint Venture Company. Luong intentionally ignored loan disbursement conditions set up by Agribank’s Board of Directors to ask for the supply of foreign currency loans.

She also did not ensure strict examination of the use of the loaned money, thus not recognising that her branch was cheated in loan provision for the Lifepro Viet Nam Joint Venture Company, according to the indictment.

The ex-director is prosecuted for violating lending regulations in credit institutions’ operation (pursuant to Item 3 of Article 179 of the Penal Code) and abusing position and authority while performing duties (pursuant to Item 3 of Article 281 of the Penal Code).

The first instance trial is scheduled to last for 10 days.-VNA