Asia

Vietnam business tycoon Ha Van Tham arrested for 'fraud'

A costumer (R) deposes bricks of dong bank notes to a local commercial bank in Hanoi on February 23, 2011 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Vietnamese authorities have vowed to take a tougher approach to bank regulation and oversight

One of Vietnam's richest business tycoons has been arrested on suspicion of lending fraud, authorities say.

Ha Van Tham, a former chairman of the private Ocean Bank, was taken into custody in Hanoi on Friday, the ministry of interior said in a statement.

Vietnam's Central Bank also announced on Friday that it had suspended Mr Tham from his bank chairman role.

Mr Tham also owns significant stakes in hotel and real estate businesses.

His personal wealth is estimated to be several billion dollars.

Local media reported that Mr Tham could be held for up to four months pending further investigations.

The Central Bank said Mr Tham was "personally responsible" for some serious violations of the law but did not give further details.

Fraud clampdown

Shares in Ocean Group has fallen by several percentage points since Wednesday.

The Vietnamese government has vowed to clamp down on fraud and embezzlement.

In June, another one of Vietnam's richest men, Nguyen Duc Kien, was sentenced to 30 years in jail for tax evasion and illegal trading.

In Kien's case, observers have suggested that the charges against him were a result of an attempt to weaken the position of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, an associate of Kien.

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