August 21, 2012 / 6:37 AM / 5 years ago

Vietnam arrests banking tycoon, bank shares fall

HANOI, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Vietnamese police have arrested a banking tycoon and summoned another senior executive for questioning, state media said on Tuesday, reigniting concern over Vietnam’s fragile banking industry.

Nguyen Duc Kien, the well-known multimillionaire founder of Asia Commercial Joint Stock Bank, was accused of wrongdoing in connection with three private firms, state-run Vietnam Television quoted the Police Ministry as saying in a statement.

ACB is 15 percent owned by Standard Chartered Plc.

The charges, the ministry said, did not relate to business at ACB, one of Vietnam’s largest banks. But shares in the Ho Chi Minh City-based bank tumbled nearly 7 percent, pushing the broader stock market index down nearly 5 percent.

Police also summoned a senior ACB executive for questioning on Tuesday, the official news website VNExpress reported.

The news rekindled concern over a banking industry strained by four years of high inflation, tumbling asset prices and ties to a state sector plagued by red ink, corruption and cronyism.

An ACB official declined to comment on the matter, noting that Kien holds less than 5 percent of ACB shares. Police Ministry officials were not immediately available.

Kien, 48, a public figure in Vietnam, is deputy chairman of the Vietnam Professional Football Joint Stock Co, which runs Vietnam’s top-tier professional football league. He is also chief executive of Hanoi-based Asia Financial Group Joint Stock Co, ACB said in its annual report for 2011.

A National Assembly committee is scheduled to question State Bank of Vietnam Governor Nguyen Van Binh later on Tuesday over the banking sector’s bad debt.

Stocks in other publicly listed banks such as Vietnam Export Import Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Eximbank) and Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Sacombank) also fell. (Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Jason Szep and Robert Birsel)

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