HCMC arrests foreign finance company employees for threatening customers

By Quoc Thang   November 19, 2022 | 09:27 pm PT
HCMC arrests foreign finance company employees for threatening customers
HCMC police inspect Mirae Asset Co. Ltd's headquarter on November 4, 2022. Photo courtesy of HCMC police
HCMC police have arrested 13 people working for the South Korean-headed Mirae Asset Co. Ltd to investigate allegations they were threatening and slandering customers who’d delayed loan repayment.

Colonel Tran Van Hieu, head of the city police’s crime branch, said at a press conference Sunday that his forces surrounded the company’s debt collection office in District 4 to make the arrests.

The arrests were part of a HCMC Police campaign against criminals and criminal activities before, during and after the upcoming Tet (Lunar New Year) festival, Hieu said.

The police acted on reports that several debt collection companies were calling and threatening people who were late with repaying their loans. They were also using social networks to slander organizations and individuals, ruining their dignity and reputation.

On November 4, HCMC Police Chief Major General Le Hong Nam directed dozens of police officers to inspect the offices of Mirae Asset Co. Ltd, a foreign company headquartered in District 1, managed by a South Korean director. This company had obtained a business license to grant consumer loans and loans to be repaid in installments.

The company required borrowers to provide personal information and information of their relatives when signing loan contracts with the company that charged a usurious interest rate of 4.58% a month, or 55% a year.

In 2016, the company rented an office on the fourth floor in Building H3 at 384 Hoang Dieu Street, District 4, for debt collection.

The methods used this company were different from those used by traditional black credit organizations who would threaten borrowers over the phone and visit their homes directly. This company mentally tortured borrowers and used defamation tactics to rob them of their dignity and sully their reputation. Successful debt collectors were given 30% of the repayment.

For borrowers who were late with repayment by 1 to 89 days, employees used software to call and remind the customers and their relatives "politely." Those whose repayments were pending beyond 89 days not only received frequent phone calls and text messages, the employees called and texted the borrowers’ relatives to apply added pressure.

If repayments were delayed for more than 180 days, the borrowers were called, texted, cursed at and threatened by company employees on phone and social media.

Their photos were photoshopped into funeral pictures, obscene photos and scam warning notices were sent to their relatives, friends and colleagues in order to shame the borrowers into repayment.

Colonel Hieu said that while the lending activities of Mirae Asset Co. Ltd were legal, its debt collection methods were not.

He advised people who were not borrowers but still threatened by the debt collectors to collect evidence and report to the investigating agency.

The police were expanding the case and verifying actions of the people involved, he said.

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