Numerous high-profile local figures have been revealed on the ICIJ Offshore Leaks database, exposing to the general public a hidden financial world and a spider web of companies and subsidiaries spun by the rich and famous.
Of the almost 320,000 offshore entities that ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) obtained data on, the majority of names comes from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, 19 of which are directly linked to Vietnam, implicating some 189 Vietnamese and foreign officers, 23 intermediaries, and 185 addresses in the country.
Of the 19 shell companies revealed, well-known businesses and people, such as Saigon Securities Inc. (SSI) chairman and CEO Nguyen Duy Hung and former ANZ CEO Dam Bich Thuy are facing unwelcome public attention and curiosity.
Hung, according to ICIJ, is a shareholder and beneficiary of British Virgin Islands-registered NHD Co., Ltd. He is also chairman of the company whose headquarters is at 1C Ngo Quyen street, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi, the exact same location as SSI’s Hanoi branch.
Responding to the ICIJ leak, SSI released an official statement today, saying that there were no countries in the world prohibiting the establishment of overseas entities to manage assets and investment funds, which includes Vietnam. “We would like to stress that our overseas investment company, legally authorised by local bodies, is completely normal, transparent, and complies with current regulations.”
“Being listed in the Panama Papers does not necessarily mean that either our company or legal representative has anything to do with tax evasion or money laundering,” SSI’s statement read.
Meanwhile, former ANZ banker Thuy was named in the offshore leaks database as director of ANZ subsidiary ANZ/V-Trac International Leasing Company. In 1999, ANZ was the first foreign bank to receive a financial leasing licence in Vietnam.
“V-Trac was licensed by the State Bank of Vietnam when I was CEO of ANZ, so I was also in charge of the company. My name, for that reason, was on the list,” said Thuy.
Thuy added that the Panama Papers listed all legal entities that were opened or established in so-called tax heavens, including British Virgin Islands. According to Thuy, legal entities that were established there are also on the record, similar to how local authorities would record such information in Vietnam.
“Being named on such a list thus does not mean individuals or entities have violated the law,” Thuy said.
Thuy was the natural resources director of ANZ Investment Bank (Singapore) from 1996 to 2005 and was subsequently appointed as CEO Vietnam, CEO Greater Mekong, and vice chairwoman of ANZ Greater Mekong Region. In 2013, Thuy served as CEO of Vietnam International Bank (VIB) for about a year before taking on her current position of head of Group Development at National Australia Bank’s Southeast Asia branch.
By Trang Nguyen
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