Vietnam Bitcoin Adopters Face Criminal Prosecution, Fines Up to $9,000

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Vietnam’s central bank has enforced laws that prohibit the issuance and usage of bitcoin as legal tender in the country.

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), Vietnam’s central bank, has outlawed bitcoin as a legal means of payment after refusing to include the cryptocurrency among non-cash payment methods approved by the authority.

As reported by CCN in October, recently updated legal frameworks for payment instruments that recognize checks, payment orders and bank cards (credit and debit) as non-cash payments did not include cryptocurrencies. As a consequence, bitcoin is seen by law as an illegal payment instrument by default.

The central bank’s public notice also underlined the very real notion of prosecuting adopters who engage in issuing, providing or using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. At the turn of the year, the threat of prosecution is now a reality.

In its [roughly translated] statement at the time, the central bank wrote:

[A]s of January 1, 2018, the act of issuing, using, or using illegal means of payment (including bitcoin and other similar virtual currency) may be subject to prosecution. in accordance with the provisions of clause 1 (h) of Article 206 of the Penal Code 2015 (as amended and supplemented in 2017).

“The issuance, supply, use of bitcoin and other similar virtual currency as a means of payment is prohibited in Vietnam,” the SBV added in its late October statement without elaborating if the “issuance and supply” also extends to local cryptocurrency exchanges or mining operations. Before prosecution, adopters will also be subject to a fine between VND 150 million and 200 million [approx. $8,900].

Few expected the central bank to implement its hostile ban, particularly after Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc approved a plan to legalize bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in August 2017.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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