APEC Group leaders under prosecution

(SGI) - Several leaders of the APEC Group have been prosecuted for manipulating stock prices.
APEC Group leaders under prosecution

This should be a wake-up call for other sharks who are continually participating in manipulation, speculation, and profiteering in the stock markets.

On 28 June, the Investigation Security Agency under the Hanoi City Police announced their decision to prosecute a group of people who were indulging in criminal activities in the stock markets. They were caught manipulating stocks of the Asia-Pacific Securities (APS), Asia Investment Joint Stock Company-Pacific (API), and Vietnam Investment Joint Stock Company (IDJ).

The Investigative Security Agency also announced its decision to temporarily detain five of the defendants for manipulating the stock markets, in accordance with Article 211 of the 2015 Penal Code. Those detained include Mr. Nguyễn Đỗ Lăng, General Director of APS; Mr. Phạm Duy Hưng, Chairman of Board of Directors of APS; Ms. Huỳnh Thị Mai Dung, wife of Mr. Nguyễn Đỗ Lăng; Ms. Nguyễn Thị Thanh, Chief Accountant at APS; and Ms. Phạm Thị Đức Việt, Deputy of Customer Service Department at APS.

Impractical plans

The APEC Group was established in 2017 and was formerly known as the BG Group Joint Stock Company. At the time of its establishment, the BG Group registered a charter capital of VND 500 bln and was operating mainly in the field of real estate.

During its heydays, the APEC Group had also planned to implement social security housing projects during the period 2021 until 2023 for the construction of around ten million apartments at an affordable price of about VND 10 mln per square meter. To realize this ambitious plan, APEC proposed to convert an industrial park land and an agricultural land area into urban development and social housing land. However, soon after coming up with this impractical plan APEC quickly forgot about taking it any further.

In the real estate market, the APEC Group is known as an investor in several resort real estate projects across the country such as Apec Mandala Wyndham Mui Ne, Apec Diamond Park Lang Son, Apec Mandala Wyndham Hue, Apec Mandala Wyndham Phu Yen, Apec Mandala Wyndham Hai Duong, Apec Mandala Sky Villas Kim Boi, Apec Aqua Park Bac Giang, Apec Golden Valley Muong Lo, Apec Aqua Park Bac Giang, Diem Thuy Center Point, and Apec Dubai Ninh Thuan. Up until now, the APEC company has only built a few of these projects and has not attracted much attention from the general public.

Misusing influence

While real estate development is still an unfinished project, the APEC Group still resonates in the stock markets under the codes API, APS, and IDJ. As the founder, the APEC Group is closely associated with Mr. Nguyễn Đỗ Lăng, born in 1974 and has a Master of Economics degree from the University of Trento in Italy. In 1998, Mr. Lăng held the position of CEO of Prometeo Italia when he was only 24 years old. After that, he held the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors of Cat Tuong International Consulting Company Limited (CIC) for six years. From 2006 until 2020, Mr. Lăng held the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors, as well as General Director of APS, Member of the Board of Directors of IDJ, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of API.

After the change of leadership in June 2020, Mr. Lăng now only holds the positions of Member of the Board of Directors of API, Member of the Board of Directors of IDJ, and Member of the Board of Directors and General Director of APS. Although he no longer directly holds the highest commanding position in the APEC Group, Mr. Lăng maintains great influence at API, APS, and IDJ.

At the APS 2021 Annual General Meeting on 16 November, Mr. Lăng and other APS shareholders wore purple scarves and shouted offensive slogans at the stock exchange. They cited strong words for gaining profit in the context that the APEC Group was storming the market with a shocking increase in just a short time. From a stock price of only a few thousand dongs, very soon APS, API, and IDJ increased by dozens of times to a price of VND 30,000 up to VND 50,000.

Stocks plunge

However, within just a few days, APEC stocks plunged, causing many retail investors to suffer heavy losses but the APEC leaders have always denied accusations of price manipulation. At the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders in 2021, Mr. Lăng confidently affirmed that the company always did the right thing. Recently, at the APS 2023 General Meeting of Shareholders held in early June, Mr. Lăng continued to announce that many leading funds had assessed that APEC stocks are undervalued. Accordingly, APEC shares will double or triple in the near future.

As the core functionary of the APEC Group, Mr. Lăng owns a large number of stocks in his own group of companies. According to data, Mr. Lăng currently holds nearly 12 million shares of APS amounting to 14.3 percent; nearly 16.5 million shares of API amounting to 19.6 percent; and more than 2 million shares of IDJ amounting to 1.3 percent.

Mr. Lăng's wife, Ms. Huỳnh Thị Mai Dung, also owns nearly 2 million shares of APS amounting to 2.02 percent; 8.2 million shares of API amounting to 9.82 percent; and nearly 6 million shares of IDJ amounting to 3.4 percent. Mr. Lăng's younger brother and daughter also hold more than 800,000 shares of APS, while his biological father Mr. Nguyễn Tiến Lộc holds 440,000 shares of API. Mr. Lăng's biological son, Mr. Nguyễn Đỗ Đức Lâm, holds more than 1 million IDJ shares amounting to 0.63 percent.

The total amount of shares that Mr. Lăng and his immediate relatives hold is nearly 14.3 million shares of APS, more than 25 million shares of API, and 9 million shares of IDJ. All these three stocks dropped to the floor at the same time in the past week. When calculated according to the market price at the last trading session last week, the number of shares held directly by the group of shareholders related to Mr. Lăng amounts to the tune of about VND 200 bln.

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