Execution fears for Vietnamese trader

Losses & Lawsuits

A Vietnamese bank employee faces possible execution in Vietnam after losing some $5.4 million in allegedly unauthorised proprietary trading.

If found guilty of misappropriating state funds, Thi Quynh Van Nguyen, a trader at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of Vietnam (Incombank), could face death by firing squad, according to local media reports.

Incombank has filed a civil suit against ABN Amro, the counterparty to the trades, and is demanding compensation of $5.4 million. Two ABN Amro employees have been taken into custody, while two others are under house arrest.

A meeting between the two parties that was scheduled last month in Hanoi was delayed. No reason was given for the delay and no date has been set for a court case.

The ABN Amro staff have remained in prison since March, and no date has yet been set for a trial.

Incombank, one of Vietnam's four main state-owned banks, claims the losses came from speculative currency deals that ABN carried out for an employee of the bank's Haiphong branch.

State media reported that Incombank alleged that Nguyen used a stolen computer password to make the transactions and was not registered with the State Bank of Vietnam and was unauthorised to trade. She has been arrested on charges of losing state resources through economic mismanagement.

In response to the allegations, ABN Amro released a statement that said: "ABN Amro believes the trades [with Incombank] were valid and all the trades were settled."

Despite concerns over the government's actions expressed by foreign government staff in the country, market participants said the lawsuit should not seriously affect currency trading in Vietnam.

One foreign exchange trader at HSBC's Hong Kong branch said: "Vietnam is a rapidly developing market and major banks still need to do business there."

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