AP News

Top executives at Vietnam bank resign


HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Three executives at a large Vietnamese bank have resigned amid a deepening probe into a scandal that has shaken investor confidence in the country.

Asia Commercial Bank said late Wednesday it had approved the resignation of chairman Tran Xuan Gia and two deputies.

Tuoi Tre newspaper reported a fourth executive currently at Eximbank had also stepped down because he was at ACB when the scandal occurred.

Vietnam' crowded banking sector is believed to have bad debts of up to 10 percent of outstanding loans and is one of the greatest risks to a once booming economy that is now slowing. The Communist government has pledged to restructure the sector, but doubts remain whether it has the will to do this

Last month, ACB's ex-CEO Ly Xuan Hai and Nguyen Duc Kien, a superwealthy founder of the bank, were arrested for "improper lending", causing a run on the bank and a large drop in the country's stock market. The arrests triggered speculation of a damaging power struggle with the country's normally secretive political and economic elite.

ACB said the executives had resigned for approving a decision by Hai to allow staff to withdraw $34 million to deposit in another bank. It gave no more details.

The bank said they have appointed a new chairman and two deputies including a representative of Standard Chartered Bank which owns 15 percent of ACB's shares.

The changes are aimed at "consolidating the management strength, enabling ACB to assert its position as a leading joint stock bank in Vietnam," it said.

It's unclear whether the executives will face criminal charges.

The country's main bourse dropped 2 percent by midmorning while ACB shares were down by almost 4 percent.


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