The richest woman in Vietnam, Truong My Lan, has been sentenced to death!

According to reports from multiple foreign media such as the Associated Press and Vietnam News Agency, the well-known real estate developer and the richest woman in Vietnam, Zhang Meilan, has been sentenced to death by a court in Ho Chi Minh City. Zhang Meilan was arrested by the Vietnamese police in October 2022 on charges of fraud, corruption, and other crimes. The case officially went to trial on March 5, 2024. Zhang Meilan decided to appeal the judgment.

Zhang Meilan is the founder and chairman of Vietnam's Van Thinh Phat Group (VTP GROUP). She founded Van Thinh Phat Group in 1992 and is engaged in businesses such as real estate, finance, catering, and hotels. The iconic buildings in Ho Chi Minh City, such as Saigon Times Square and the Windsor Hotel where the APEC was held in 2006, are all her industries. Although she has never appeared on major rich lists, with her holding of multiple well-known assets, Zhang Meilan is known as the richest woman in Vietnam.

According to the Vietnam News Agency report, from October 2018 to October 2022, Zhang Meilan and her co-defendants, in order to meet their personal needs, forged 916 loan documents and collectively defrauded Saigon Commercial Joint Stock Bank with 304 trillion Vietnamese dong. The bank has yet to recover the amount and has incurred more than 129.4 trillion Vietnamese dong in interest. Bloomberg said: "This is the largest fraud case in the country's history."

On October 8, 2022, Zhang Meilan was arrested by the Vietnamese police and then charged with embezzlement of property, bribery, and violation of credit institution loan regulations. According to the prosecution's indictment in the case, the Van Thinh Phat Group founded by Zhang Meilan consists of 1,000 subsidiary companies and joint ventures, managed by her family and relatives. Although Zhang Meilan did not hold a position at Saigon Commercial Joint Stock Bank, she was the major shareholder of the bank, holding 85% to 91.5% of the shares. However, Zhang Meilan denied the number of shares she held in Saigon Commercial Joint Stock Bank, only claiming to hold 5% of the shares.

In addition, Zhang Meilan was accused of bribing the National Bank inspection team to seek to cover up her and Saigon Commercial Joint Stock Bank.

According to the Lianhe Zaobao report, during the trial on March 19, the prosecutor once stated: "As the main plotter in the case, Zhang Meilan not only did not admit guilt and show remorse, but also was stubborn and continued to shift the blame."

However, during the trial, Zhang Meilan stated that she did not intentionally break the law nor cause damage to the country and depositors. She is willing to hand over several of her family assets to make up for the losses caused to Saigon Commercial Bank.

However, the prosecutor still sentenced Zhang Meilan to death and 19 to 20 years in prison for "the crime of embezzlement of property", "violation of banking business regulations", and "bribery", for a total punishment of death. The procuratorate also required Zhang Meilan to compensate Saigon Commercial Joint Stock Bank for approximately 67.7 trillion Vietnamese dong.

The five-week trial was conducted under tight security at the People's Court in Ho Chi Minh City. A total of 86 defendants in the case were tried, including Zhang Meilan's husband, Hong Kong businessman Zhu Zhiqiang, and niece, VTP Executive Director Zhang Huiwen.