Dinh La Thang was led to the court. (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Hanoi People’s Court on March 19 opened a trial for Dinh La Thang, former Chairman of the Member Council of the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam), and six accomplices for their wrongdoings in investing PetroVietnam’s capital in Ocean Bank.

The six other defendants are former officials of PetroVietnam, comprising former Deputy General Director Nguyen Xuan Son; former chief accountant and former head of the department of finance, accounting and auditing Ninh Van Quynh; along with four former members of the Member Council, namely Vu Khanh Truong, Nguyen Xuan Thang, Nguyen Thanh Liem, and Phan Dinh Duc.

All the seven were charged with “deliberately violating State regulations on economic management causing serious consequences.” Ninh Van Quynh alone faced the additional charge of “abusing power to misappropriate State assets.” Their acts caused losses of 800 billion VND (35.2 million USD) to PetroVietnam and its shareholders.

The judge panel of the court comprises five members. A total of 23 lawyers have registered to defend legitimate rights and interests of the defendants and others involving in the case, including five lawyers of Dinh La Thang.

The Hanoi People’s Court has summoned many individuals and organisations concerned, including representatives of the Ocean Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Ocean Bank) and PetroVietnam.

Ha Van Tham, former Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ocean Bank, is subpoenaed as a witness. Meanwhile, Nguyen Ngoc Su, former Deputy General Director of PetroVietnam, and Phung Dinh Thuc, former General Director of PetroVietnam, are present at the court as people having interests and obligations related to the case.

[Infographics: Trial on wrongdoings in PetroVietnam’s investment in OceanBank]

According to the indictment, after PetroVietnam failed to establish the Hong Viet Commercial Joint Stock Bank, Dinh La Thang, who was Chairman of the Member Council of PetroVietnam, instructed Nguyen Xuan Son and Nguyen Ngoc Su to have working sessions with a number of credit organisations on investment contribution, including Ocean Bank.

In September 2008, Nguyen Xuan Son and Ha Van Tham agreed to turn PetroVietnam into OceanBank’s strategic shareholder.

Accordingly, from October 1, 2008 to May 16, 2011, PetroVietnam contributed a total of 800 billion VND to OceanBank for three times to maintain its 20 percent of capital in the bank.

The Law on Credit Institutions, which came into force on January 1, 2011, stipulates that an institutional shareholder may not own more than 15 percent of the charter capital of a credit institution.

Meanwhile, Dinh La Thang took no actions to withdraw PetroVietnam’s money in Ocean Bank to ensure the rate, but continued to sign a decision appointing another person as a representative of the 20 percent stake.

His violations enabled Nguyen Xuan Thang, Nguyen Thanh Liem, Vu Khanh Truong, Nguyen Xuan Son and Ninh Van Quynh to continue with illegal capital contributions of 100 billion VND (4.4 million USD) to Ocean Bank.

 As a result, PetroVietnam lost 800 billion VND after Ocean Bank fell into the red and was acquired by the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) at zero VND.-VNA