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Vietnam ex-banker gets life in prison over US$230 mil. fraud

HANOI, Vietnam--A Vietnamese court Monday sentenced a former banker to life in prison for a fraud involving more than US$230 million, one of the communist country's largest-ever such cases.

Huynh Thi Huyen Nhu, 37, was convicted alongside 22 other defendants who were given sentences of up to 20 years in prison after a three-week trial ended Monday, a clerk at the People's Court in the southern metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City told AFP.

Nhu raised some US$231 million in loans from individuals, companies and other banks when she worked for the state-run Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (Vietinbank).

She claimed to be raising funds on the bank's behalf, the Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

Nhu forged some 200 documents and hired other people to counterfeit the official stamps of Vietinbank and other companies in order to obtain the loans, the report said.

The court ordered Nhu to return all the money she had stolen, it added.

Nhu had racked up debts by making a series of disastrous investments in real estate and then “turned to swindling” in order to repay her debts, it said.

The judge dismissed her lawyer's argument that former employer Vietinbank should take responsibility and compensate clients for their losses, VNExpress reported.

“(Nhu) was the gang leader who took all responsibilities and Vietinbank knew nothing about her fraudulent acts,” the report said.

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Huynh Thi Huyen Nhu, 37, is led out of the courtroom at a local People's Court House in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on Monday, Jan. 27.

(AFP)

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