Vietnam jails soft drinks tycoon for eight years in $40m fraud case

Tran Qui Thanh was found guilty of scamming investors over loans issued in 2019 and 2020.

Vietnamese soft drinks boss Tran Qui Thanh has been sentenced to eight years in prison for fraud [AFP]

Vietnam’s top soft drinks tycoon was jailed for eight years on Thursday in a $40m fraud case – the latest high-profile business figure snared in the country’s sweeping crackdown on corruption.

The communist nation’s wide-ranging campaign to wipe out endemic corruption has seen more than 4,400 people charged with criminal offences, including officials and senior business figures.

A court in Ho Chi Minh City found Tran Qui Thanh and his two daughters guilty of scamming investors over loans issued in 2019 and 2020.

Thanh, the 71-year-old chairman of beverage group Tan Hiep Phat, was ruled to have masterminded scams to appropriate assets put up as collateral against loans, state media reported.

Even when the borrowers paid back the money with interest, Thanh would refuse to give back the assets on various pretexts, including claiming they had forfeited their repurchase rights due to contract breaches.

The court sentenced Thanh’s 43-year-old daughter Tran Uyen Phuong, the company’s deputy CEO, to four years in jail.

Younger daughter Tran Ngoc Bich, 40, was given a suspended three-year jail sentence.

Tan Hiep Phat is one of Vietnam’s biggest beverage companies, known for its range of bottled tea and energy drinks.

In his final words before court, Thanh said he regretted what happened and was ready to take responsibility.

“I would like to be given leniency, handing me the chance to come back to society soon for my continued work and devotion,” Thanh was quoted as saying.

Some of Vietnam’s most successful business leaders have been snared in the corruption purge.

In one of the biggest fraud cases in history, property tycoon Truong My Lan was sentenced to death earlier this month for masterminding a swindle that has caused losses estimated at $27bn.

Facing justice with Lan were 85 others, including senior banking officials, being sentenced on charges ranging from bribery and power abuse to appropriation and violations of banking law.

In March, a Hanoi court gave luxury property tycoon Do Anh Dung eight years in prison for cheating thousands of investors in a $355m bond scam.

State media reported that Dung and his son, who was jailed for three years, have already repaid the $355m.

Source: AFP