$3,855 fine for changing $100 will be reviewed: Deputy PM

By Hoai Thu   October 28, 2018 | 01:53 am PT
$3,855 fine for changing $100 will be reviewed: Deputy PM
The State Bank of Vietnam must review a recent fine on a southern man for exchanging $100 in a local gold shop. Photo by Shutterstock/ElenaR
The legality of a $3,855 fine imposed for exchanging $100 in a gold shop should be reviewed, Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh says.

Binh said Saturday that the central bank, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), should look into the legality and appropriateness of such a heavy fine being imposed on a man in southern Can Tho City. 

SBV Governor Le Minh Hung had said Friday that the director of central bank’s southern branch was working with the Can Tho’s People’s Committee to investigate the matter further.

On Tuesday, 38-year-old electrician Nguyen Ca Re was fined VND90 million ($3,855) by Can Tho authorities for exchanging a $100 note in a gold shop.

The VND2.3 million ($98.48) that Re received from the shop was also confiscated. A heavy fine of VND295 million ($12,630) was also slapped on the gold shop and the $100 note confiscated.

Re said that he had been given the $100 by a relative and had been exchanging dollar notes at gold shops before without any trouble. 

He also said that with his monthly salary of VND4 million ($171), he doesn’t know how to get the money to pay the VND90 million fine.

The fine was a reflection of weak governance, said National Assembly delegate and Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Bar Federation Nguyen Chien said Saturday.

“Many illegal currency exchange points still exist [in Vietnam], and the government is responsible for that first-hand,” he added.

The government needs to deal with those illegal currency exchange points instead of punishing people like Re, Chien said.

While current regulations ban the unauthorized buying and selling of foreign currencies, gold shops have for long been used by the public for this purpose, a HCMC-based economist who requested anonymity noted.

He said this has happened because authorized money exchange points are very few. Such illegal transactions are also difficult to manage, he added.  

In contrast, the deputy head of the State Bank’s HCMC branch, Nguyen Hoang Minh, told VnExpress that the 70 legal exchange points in the city were enough to meet public demand.

Apart from commercial banks, Vietnam has 580 legal exchange points, according to the State Bank.

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