The Prime Minister of Vietnam has signed a directive for the country’s central bank and the Ministry of Finance to strengthen the management of cryptocurrency-related activities. This follows an alleged fraud involving a cryptocurrency that scammed 32,000 Vietnamese out of VNĐ15 trillion.
Prime Minister’s Directive
The Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has signed a directive to strengthen “the management of activities related to bitcoin and other virtual currencies,” Viet Nam News reported, elaborating:
To limit the risks and adverse impacts on society, as well as promptly detect, prevent and handle fraud, the Prime Minister asked the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) to direct credit institutions and intermediary payment service organisations not to conduct illegal transactions related to digital currencies.
The authorities have repeatedly warned about the risks associated with cryptocurrencies “as well as their use for criminal activity such as money laundering, terrorist financing, illegal remittance, tax evasion and fraud,” the news outlet added.
Preventing Crypto Scams
This directive follows an alleged crypto fraud involving a theft of VNĐ15 trillion (~USD$658 million) from 32,000 victims in Ho Chi Minh City. Dozens of investors protested over the weekend at the office of Modern Tech Jsc Co, which marketed the Ifan tokens. They carried banners saying “biggest digital money fraud in history,” the publication conveyed, adding that the location turned out to be a ghost address with no sign of company activities.
For an investment of $1,000 or more, Modern Tech promised a return of at least 48% in cash and an additional 8% for recruiting other buyers, one protester explained. However, the global decline of the crypto market has caused Ifan’s value to plummet to about 1 US cent and the company subsequently changed its policy to pay out interest and principal back in the Ifan currency instead of cash, the publication described.
The SBV has been closely following this case, the news outlet reported a central bank official indicating. “We are gathering information about the case, but officially we haven’t launched an investigation until we receive accusations from any of the alleged victims,” Le Dong Phong, the police chief of Ho Chin Minh City told Reuters.
Crypto Laws In the Works
According to the Prime Minister’s directive, financial organizations must “strengthen their management, review and report suspicious transactions related to cryptocurrencies,” Viet Nam News added.
Following the directive signing, the Vietnamese Government Office published Letter No. 2768 / VPCP-KTTH on Wednesday to provide directions for the Ministry of Finance, Information and Communication as well as the SBV to follow, according to the Government Gazette.
The Prime Minister continues to put the Ministry of Justice in charge of studying and completing a “uniform and unified legal framework on the management and handling of virtual currency, virtual property and electronic money,” the Gazette detailed. The Justice Ministry, the SBV, and other related agencies are already carrying out the crypto-related tasks assigned by the Prime Minister in a directive submitted in January. According to the Gazette, the Justice Ministry sent a written statement to the Prime Minister, stating:
Although there are no regulations on virtual currency, there are also no rules that ban transactions using virtual currency.
The SBV also submitted its comments to the Prime Minister, emphasizing that it “is the only agency issuing paper money and coins” which are the only legal means of payment in Vietnam. “As such, the SBV believes that bitcoin and other similar virtual currencies are not currencies and legal means of payment in Vietnam. The issuance, supply, use of bitcoin and other similar virtual currency as a means of payment is prohibited in Vietnam,” the Gazette reiterated.
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