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Vietnam’s President Calls it Quits After Only 1 Year on the Job

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Vietnam's President Calls it Quits

Yesterday Vietnam’s Communist Party accepted President Vo Van Thuong’s resignation on Wednesday, according to the government, citing “shortcomings,” in a sign of political unrest that might undermine foreign investors’ confidence in the country.

The government stated in a statement that Thuong breached party norms, and that these “shortcomings had negatively impacted public opinion, affecting the reputation of the Party, State, and himself personally.”

Just over a year after his election, the Central Party Committee, a senior decision-making body in Communist-ruled Vietnam, approved Thuong’s resignation.

The president’s job is mostly ceremonial, but it is one of the top four political offices in the Southeast Asian country.

The committee meeting came ahead of an emergency session of Vietnam’s rubber-stamping parliament set for Thursday, when lawmakers are expected to endorse the party’s choices.

Major leadership changes in the one-party state have recently been linked to the extensive “blazing furnace” anti-bribery campaign, which is intended to combat systemic corruption but is also suspected by critics of being a vehicle for political infighting.

Thuong, 53, resigned days after Vietnamese authorities reported the arrest of a former head of central Vietnam’s Quang Ngai province for alleged wrongdoing a decade ago. Thuong was the party chief at the time.

Thuong was widely believed to be close to General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, Vietnam’s most powerful politician and the primary architect of the anti-graft drive.

When former President Nguyen Xuan Phuc resigned last year after the party accused him of “violations and wrongdoing” by officials under his authority, MPs took a month and a half to choose Thuong as his successor.

The current political crisis may be addressed with the fast election of a new president, but there is still a risk that frequent reshuffles of senior officials may harm business sentiment in a country heavily reliant on foreign investment.

The Ho Chi Minh City stock exchange, the country’s primary bourse, fell over 3% in the first hours of trading on Monday, as news of the president’s impending resignation spread.

Foreign investors’ net sales in the first two days of the week were almost US$80 million, according to Mirae Asset Securities, a broker.

Thuong’s “removal could see policy and administrative decisions slow further as officials are more anxious about the arc of the anti-corruption campaign,” said a Vietnam-based counsel to foreign corporations, adding that Vietnam’s position on important policies will remain unchanged.

Vietnam Seeks Death Penalty for Woman Behind US$30 Billion Bank Fraud

Vietnam Seeks Death Penalty for Woman Behind US$30 Billion Bank Fraud

Vietnamese prosecutors demanded the death penalty for Truong My Lan, the architect of Southeast Asia’s greatest financial fraud ever, according to official media.

Lan, the chairperson of real estate developer Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group, is on trial in the economic capital of Ho Chi Minh City on charges of directing a scheme that cost US$20 billion, or approximately 4.9% of Vietnam’s GDP.

The trial, which is set to last until the end of April, is part of a fight against corruption that the ruling Communist Party’s leader, Nguyen Phu Trong, has promised to end for years, despite producing few tangible achievements.

“Lan didn’t plead guilty or show remorse,” the Thanh Nien newspaper quoted prosecutors as saying, while demanding the death punishment for embezzlement.

“The consequences are extremely serious and irreparable, and therefore, there must be a strict punishment for Truong My Lan and remove her from the society,” the statement said. Lan’s lawyer was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.

According to investigators, Lan and her collaborators stole more than 304 trillion dong ($12.46 billion) from Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank (SCB), which she effectively controlled through dozens of proxies.

Prosecutors have also charged the group of creating additional damages of 193 trillion dong, more than 129 trillion dong of which is the cumulative interest on the loans they received.

The overall financial losses in the case amounted to 498 trillion dong ($20 billion), according to reports.

Lan appropriated substantial sums by making illegal loans to shell businesses between early 2018 and October 2022, when the state bailed out SCB following a run on its reserves, according to investigators.

Investigators claim she bribed officials to disregard her activities, including paying an alleged $5.2 million to a senior central bank inspector.

Three independent auditing firms violated the SCB case, according to congressman Pham Van Hoa, but the government did not identify them.

According to the government statement, the remark came during a question to Finance Minister Ho Duc Phoc. Phoc criticized auditing in several recent criminal cases, claiming that “intentional collusion and violations” by auditors had not been eliminated.

Top worldwide firms, including Ernst & Young and KPMG, did not raise concerns about the bank during their audits, according to public documents.

The CTNNews editorial team comprises seasoned journalists and writers dedicated to delivering accurate, timely news coverage. They possess a deep understanding of current events, ensuring insightful analysis. With their expertise, the team crafts compelling stories that resonate with readers, keeping them informed on global happenings.

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