Headquarters of Saigon Commercial Bank in downtown District 1 in HCM City. The bond buyers, who have been identified as victims by the police, purchased their bonds at SCB. — VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp

Over the past eight months, authorities have been searching for the victims and have identified many of the 42,000 individuals involved in the case. 

However, the police said in a press release on Tuesday that some victims have still not filed complaints, slowing down the investigation process.

The police warned that failure to come forward may result in losses for the victims.

Trương Mỹ Lan, 68, chairwoman of Vạn Thịnh Phát, and her associates have been identified by the police as the perpetrators of the bond fraud activities. 

The police said that between 2018 and 2020, the group and its affiliates conducted 25 bond issuances to finance their operations and allegedly defrauded investors, misappropriating a total of VNĐ30.1 trillion. They did not provide further information about the case.

The police said the investigation is ongoing, and they will release specific details and findings once it is completed.

Bondholders have not received the interest or principal they were supposed to get through their accounts at Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB), where most had purchased the bonds. 

The bank has stated all accounts associated with Vạn Thịnh Phát and its affiliated companies have been frozen by the police, preventing the bondholders from receiving their payments.

The largest private lender by assets, now under central bank management, clarified it was "only involved in selling the bonds to investors" and “does not guarantee bond repayment”.

In response to the public outcry, authorities have assured them any recovered money and assets from the Vạn Thịnh Phát-SCB scandal will be prioritised to be returned to bondholders.

Assets associated with Trương Mỹ Lan, such as properties in prime locations, shares in various companies, vehicles, and bank accounts, which are worth millions of dollars, have been seized or frozen by the authorities.

Lan, who holds a significant stake in SCB, is believed to be the mastermind behind the fraudulent bond activities at the lender.

Authorities have already announced an upcoming trial this year to address the illegal issuance of bonds connected to the chairwoman and her company.

In a previous trial, Trương Mỹ Lan has been sentenced to death for bribery, violating banking regulations, and embezzlement from SCB, resulting in a loss of VNĐ677 trillion ($27 billion) for the bank. She has appealed her death sentence.

Three SCB executives found guilty of assisting Lan in her schemes were sentenced to life in prison.

The chief banking inspector at the central bank has been sentenced to life for receiving $5.2 million in bribes to cover up the financial situation of the private lender. 

Eighty-one others received prison sentences ranging from three to 20 years. 

Experts said it would take three to five years to fully tackle all the issues stemming from the Vạn Thịnh Phát-SCB scandal, which sparked public outrage.

The government has blamed the Finance Ministry, particularly the State Commission of Securities, and the central bank, which are primarily responsible for overseeing the corporate bond market, for their weak management. — VNS