Russian man arrested as cops bust loansharking firms in HCMC

By Quoc Thang   April 24, 2024 | 08:39 pm PT
Russian man arrested as cops bust loansharking firms in HCMC
Police arrest Verevkin Vladimir (R), Do Minh Hai and three other staff members of a loansharking firm in HCMC's Phu Nhuan District, April 24, 2024. Photo by police
The Ho Chi Minh City police have arrested three men, including a Russian, for running two illegal money lending companies that allegedly charged interest of 100%.

Do Minh Hai, 39, Tran Dinh Chien, 50, and Vladimir Verevkin, 30, could face charges of "committing usury in civil transactions."

Hai is accused of running two financial consulting and pawnshop businesses in the city that actually lent VND3.9 trillion (US$180 million) at usurious interest rates, generating profits of VND700 billion, the police said.

They described the operations as organized crime involving foreigners and Vietnamese operating transnationally to illegally earn particularly large amounts of money.

The arrests came after they found TM 24H Company and ATM Online on Phan Xich Long Street in Phu Nhuan District involved in organized, large-scale usurious lending activities while purporting to be pawn and financial consulting companies.

Hai was in charge of running the two companies and he hired Hien as the director and the Russian as the regional director for Vietnam.

The two companies operated in a coordinated manner and professionally.

To elude police scrutiny, Hai directed employees to lend online, store customer files online and avoid operating at the registered business address.

When lending money to customers, the companies would draw up consulting and asset mortgage contracts, "lease" non-existent mortgaged assets to split up the interest rate to below 20% a year each, making them compliant with the law.

But they also took payments purporting to be consulting, platform and asset mortgage fees, etc. which added up to the equivalent of 100% interest.

The police determined that Hai and his accomplices gave more than 739,000 loans worth VND3.9 trillion and got back over VND4.6 trillion including interest and fees.

It is unclear how long the firms have been in business and how long they took to lend such a sum.

The investigation is ongoing.

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