A fraud scandal involving one of Vietnam's most successful private companies has degenerated into violence with the bizarre death of one of its senior executives. Police have yet to rule out murder following the discovery of the body of Nguyen Van Ha, deputy director in charge of financial affairs of the Minh Phung garments and property conglomerate. Ha was found dead on Saturday in a lift engine room at the top of the high-rise headquarters of Incombank in Ho Chi Minh City, police said. His head was bound in a metal cord that forced his face against an electrical circuit board, leaving few clues as to whether the death was suicide or murder. Ha had been missing for three days. Newspapers in the southern city said that other than burns to his face there were no signs of a struggle. Dozens of officers are now investigating. Mr Ha, a former official at the state-owned Vietcombank, had so far avoided direct implication in a bank-loan scam that has seen more than a dozen fellow executives arrested. High-flying chief and founder Tang Minh Phung was one of those arrested. Mr Ha joined the firm in 1995 direct from Vietcombank's Ho Chi Minh City branch. The Saigon Times daily reported yesterday that Minh Phung and 13 others remained on remand pending a trial. Authorities have accused the firm of fleecing state assets by using backroom influence - rather than solid collateral - to snare a string of loans in the early 1990s as the property market boomed. Initial estimates suggested more than US$18 million (HK$139.2 million) could be involved. Funds were obtained from a string of state-owned and private banks, helping also to build a garment operation that now employs 8,000 people.