Washington PostVietnam’s punishment for corrupt bankers: Death
BY TERRENCE MCCOY
April 4 at 4:03 am
On June 29, 2009, upon conviction of running a Ponzi scheme that bamboozled investors of at least $18 billion, Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in federal prison. The sentence, the maximum prosecutors had requested, came at a time of public anger against bankers who had shown uninhibited avarice before the financial collapse. The punishment was almost unanimously hailed: Finally, at least one corrupt financier had gotten his comeuppance.
“The sentence imposed today recognizes the significance of Bernard Madoff’s crimes,” the prosecuting U.S. attorney said. The judge called Madoff’s crimes “extraordinarily evil.”
By Vietnamese standards, Madoff got off easy.
In the past five months, at least three Vietnamese bankers have been sentenced to death — though their crimes amount to just 1 percent of Madoff’s haul.
Last month, a 57-year-old director of a Vietnam Development Bank was sentenced to death after he and 12 others approved counterfeit loans in the amount of $89 million. For inking those contracts, he got a BMW, a diamond ring, and $5.5 million in kickbacks. His death sentence follows similar punishments meted out to two other bankers: One was sent to death row in November for his part in a $25 million scam, and the other, banker Duong Chi Dung, got his in December.
The sentences offer a sharp contrast between how the West handles financial crimes — prison terms, sometimes just a fine — and how some East Asian countries do it. China also executes those convicted of economic crimes, though it’s unclear how many.
In Vietnam, executions have historically been gruesome. A firing squad stuffs the convicted’s mouth with lemons. Then, if customs described by Death Penalty Worldwide are true, he’s tied to a pole and shot by five to seven men. “As the prisoner is dying,” the organization reports, “an officer fires a pistol shot through the condemned’s ear.”