One of Vietnam’s richest banking tycoons was arrested four days ago for “illegal businesses,” usually a euphemism for corruption.
The government’s move against Nguyen Duc Kien is prompting fears of instability in Vietnam’s banking segment.
Kien co-founded the Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) and holds stakes in several other banks.
Another arrest last week of an ACB executive, CEO Ly Xuan Hai, sparked panic among depositors and huge withdrawals. Hai was arrested for “violating state regulations” and “causing grave consequences.”
Both ACB and Vietnam’s central bank said the two arrests were not related.
Kien’s arrest, according to some reports, may be an indirect political attack on Vietnam’s prime minister, Nguyễn Tấn Dũng. The prime minister is reportedly close to Kien and reports generally to the Communist Party’s Politburo.
Foreign investors are concerned that the two high-profile arrests at ACB may be the start of a wider campaign against banks and state-owned enterprises under the guise of an anti-corruption initiative.
Zhang Min is a researcher for ethiXbase.
It appears to me that the concerns of foreign investors that these "two high-profile arrests . . may be the start of a wider campaign against banks and state-owned enterprises under the guise of an anti-corruption initiative" are well founded in part. The campaign is certainly wide, and can be expected to include US FCPA enforcement efforts to which the bribe-givers are subject, and investigations and sanctions of the World Bank which provided the funding.
Any assumption that these arrests signal the "start" of such a campaign, however, ignores a clear series of prior enforcement actions in Vietnam and Australia.
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