Friday, March 23, 2012

Vietnam to try executives in shipmaker scandal

HANOI: Former top executives at Vietnam's state-owned shipbuilder Vinashin, whose multi-billion-dollar debt threatened the country's financial reputation, will go on trial next week, a court clerk said Friday.

The four-day trial will start Tuesday in the northern port city of Hai Phong, the clerk told AFP, although she would not confirm the number of defendants or provide further information on the proceedings.

Scandal-hit Vinashin, officially known as Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group, almost went bankrupt last year with debts totalling more than $4 billion.



The troubles sparked investor fears that the scandal was symptomatic of wider problems at state-owned firms, a key part of Vietnam's economy.

Following a police probe, the group's former chairman, Pham Thanh Binh, and eight other executives were indicted in November for deliberately acting against state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences.

The charge carries a maximum 20 years in prison.

All nine have been detained since being arrested in August 2010. Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security has filed an international warrant for two other former top executives.

The case piled pressure on Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who appointed Binh and was considered close to the disgraced executive.

At the height of the scandal in 2010, one lawmaker even called for a rare vote of no confidence in the premier.

Police investigations have focused on the loss of more than $43 million, most of which reportedly disappeared on projects to develop a high-speed passenger boat and a failed electricity plant.

In December 2010, the company defaulted on the first $60 million installment of a $600 million loan arranged by Credit Suisse in 2007.

No further information on how the loan had been settled since then is available.

The government had said no political leaders would be punished for the problems at Vinashin and the company is being restructured.

- AFP/wm

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Source From Channel News Asia

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