Vietnam shocked by tycoon's arrest

One of Vietnam's most powerful tycoons Nguyen Duc Kien - a household name in the financial market and football industry - was arrested yesterday evening over unannounced economic reasons, sending shockwaves across the country.

The arrest was confirmed by the General Police Department of Crime Prevention under the Ministry of Public Security.

The multi-millionaire Kien is founder of Asia Commercial Joint Stock Bank (ACB), one of Vietnam's largest banks.

Kien, who was living at Alley No.27 on Xuan Dieu Street in Hanoi's Tay Ho District, was arrested on Monday evening for alleged violations in business activities, a leader of the General Police Department of Crime Prevention told Tuoi Tre. But this senior policeman declined to elaborate.

The Investigation Police Agency under the Ministry of Public Security also conducted a one-hour search at his residence in Hanoi on Monday night. The police agency said they had seized several documents related to Kien's violation.

Just hours before his arrest - on late Monday afternoon - Kien met with Tuoi Tre for an interview about issues arisen from the to the 2012 football season in Vietnam at the Hilton Hotel in Hanoi.

The 48-year-old man is also deputy chairman of the Vietnam Professional Football Joint Stock Co (VPF) and chairman of Hanoi Football Club.

He is also a founding shareholder in several other commercial banks such as Kien Long Commercial Joint Stock Bank and the Vietnam Export-Import Commercial Joint Stock Bank.

Besides being a banking tycoon, Kien is well-known as a football manager and a philanthropist.

Stock market down

News of his arrest sent the stock market to the bottom in a matter of hours.

The benchmark of Vietnamese stock market, VN-Index of Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange, and the indicator of Hanoi Stock Exchange, HNX-Index, dropped 15.24 points (3.49 percent) and 3.01 points (4.26 percent) on Tuesday morning, due to the arrest.

The shares of Asia Commercial Joint Stock Bank (coded ACB) and Vietnam Export-Import Commercial Joint Stock Bank (coded EIB) saw 1 million shares and 2 million shares unsold at their floor prices respectively.

All stock in the newly launched HNX30 almost hit the floor simultaneously.

ACB: It is Kien's personal issue

"It is a personal issue (of Kien)," said Nguyen Thanh Toai, deputy general director cum spokesman of ACB.

"Kien is no longer a major shareholder, nor a board member, and are not involved in the bank's board of executives."

"The detention of Kien is the decision of the authorities so it does not affect the normal operation of the bank," Toai stressed.

Toai told Tuoi Tre that since Kien is no longer a major shareholder, Kien is not obliged to disclose information about the ACB shares owned by him and his family members.

Kien is holding less than 5 percent of ACB shares, Toai said.

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