Hefty fine raises currency issue

Friday, Oct 26, 2018 08:44

Some jewellery stores are authorised by banks to act as foreign currency exchange agents. - VNA/VNS Photo

Though regulations against exchanging foreign currency at unlicensed outlets have existed since 2014, many people are not aware of the rules.

The issue was highlighted recently after Nguyen Ca Re, from the southern city of Can Tho, faces a hefty fine of up to VND90 million (US$3,846) after exchanging a US$100 bill for VND2.26 million in a jewellery store which was not licensed by the State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) to provide foreign currency exchange.

Besides Re, the jewellery store was also slapped with a penalty of VND180 million for providing the service.

Like Re, many other residents said that they didn’t know about the rule until the case was reported by local media.

Nguyen Anh Hong, a trader specialising in importing goods from foreign markets to Ha Noi, said she was unaware of the ban on the exchange of foreign currency at unlicensed outlets and that such violations face fines of up to VND100 million.

Under Clause 3, Article 24 of Decree No 96/2014/ND-CP issued by the Government in 2014, stipulating punishments for violating administrative regulations on currencies and banking, the exchange of foreign currencies at unlicensed organisations could incur fines from VND80 million to VND100 million. The authorities are also eligible to confiscate the foreign currencies.

According to the law, only banks are licensed to trade and exchange foreign currencies.

Some jewellery stores are also authorised by banks to act as exchange agents, however, they are eligible for buying but not selling of foreign currencies.

According to Nguyen Ngoc Dong, director of the SBV’s Foreign Currency Management Department, the exchange of foreign currencies is available in many locations as of the end of September this year, the SBV licenced 580 exchange stores nationwide, covering urban and rural areas.

Under SBV regulations, banks must publicise the lists of exchange outlets on their websites, Dong said.

In the case of Re, who reportedly is unable to pay the fine as he works as an electrician on a monthly salary of just above VND3 million, at Wednesday’s press briefing Senior Lieutenant Colonel Tran Van Duong, spokesman of the Can Tho City Police, expressed his own view that a reduction or exemption on the fine should be considered.

Re can write to the municipal government, requesting a reduction or exemption as he faces financial difficulties, Duong suggested. - VNS

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