Vietnamese man escapes controversial $3,900 fine for $100 note exchange

By Cuu Long   November 5, 2018 | 08:10 pm PT
Vietnamese man escapes controversial $3,900 fine for $100 note exchange
In Vietnam, buying and selling foreign currencies on the free market is against the law. Photo by VnExpress/Le Chi
A Can Tho man who had been slapped with a VND90 million ($3,900) penalty for changing a $100-bill has been pardoned.

Nguyen Ca Re, 38, an electrician in the southern city, however had the VND2.26 million he received for the dollar bill confiscated by authorities.

Can Tho Vice Chairman Truong Quang Hoai Nam said Re would be let off because of his poor background following a meeting with him Monday.

The meeting was held after Re wrote to the People's Committee saying he had been unaware that exchanging foreign currencies in gold shops was illegal and seeking a pardon since he only earned VND4-5 million ($172.2-215.2) a month and had a family of four to feed.

Nguyen Van Hau, deputy chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, had said: "How do you exactly identify a licensed foreign currency exchange point? It is difficult for an ordinary person to do so. An ordinary person would simply find the nearest place to carry out this transaction."

Furthermore, Hau said, a fine must be based on the severity of violation and harm done.

He said: “Exchanging $100 for a little more than VND2 million but being fined VND90 million may be legally correct but not reasonable at all.”

On January 30 this year Re took the $100 note he had received from a relative to Thao Luc gold shop in Ninh Kieu District and exchanged it, but was caught red-handed by the police.

Officers then carried out a search of the gold shop and seized the $100 bill Re had just exchanged besides 20 diamonds and 19,910 artificial gemstones worth nearly VND550 million ($23,670) that lacked receipts.

On being questioned, both the shop owner and Re admitted to their violations, and authorities imposed fines.

Re was fined VND90 million and the shop, VND295 million ($12,695). The money and undocumented stones found during the search were seized.

Asked why it took them eight months to issue the fines, the police said it was because the case had at first been handed over to the criminal police to investigate possible tax evasion, and the investigation was eventually dropped in July.

Last Thursday the shop owner submitted a petition asking for the seized diamonds and gemstones to be returned to him, claiming they were his family's private property and not merchandise for sale.

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