On the last days of 2011, the black market turns to be more bustling, even though they all heard about the heavy punishment imposed by the State Bank’s inspectors. The black market becomes more bustling because it is now very difficult to buy dollars from banks.
On December 26, The HT Gold Shop, located next to the Ben Thanh Market in HCM City, was very bustling. People came to buy and sell Euro, US dollars, Australian dollars and Singaporean dollars. The officers of the shop and two cash registers of the shop worked at full capacity to satisfy the demand of the clients.
A foreigner was seen entering the shop with a Vietnamese young man and asking to purchase 3500 dollars. “How is the price today? I wants 2000 dollars,” the reporter, who acted as a buyer, asked. “21,320” (21,320 dong per dollar) was the reply.
The dollar transactions were also carried out at other gold shops of the Tan Dinh and Ba Chieu market areas. Especially, right at the Tan Son Nhat airport, travelers to HCM City could sell dollars to the four women who said they would collect as many dollars as clients had. However, the women offered the prices which were much lower than that offered by gold shops.
TVN, who said he does not know big foreign currency traders, asked the owner of a gold shop to sell 10,000 dollars for him. The gold shop owner told TVN that after the two sides agree on the prices, an officer of the gold shop would come to N’s home to deliver dong and get dollars.
The owner of the shop said that in order to escape from the inspection, gold shops usually refuse big transactions with unfamiliar clients, but they then ask the clients to leave their addresses, so that the gold shops would be able to resume transactions in the evening.
Some foreign currency traders say they are collecting dollars and then reselling to the enterprises which import goods on the days near to the Tet holiday. The enterprises, which have to pay due debts to banks, also have to buy dollars from them.
Of course, businesses have to “play tricks” to legalize the dollars they buy from the black market. At first, businesses sell the dollars to banks, and then banks resell to businesses. Only by doing that, the dollars businesses can buy will become “legal.”
The individuals, who have the legitimate demand for dollars, cannot buy dollars from banks. Therefore, it is understandable why they have to seek dollars from the black market. Meanwhile, people do not want to sell dollars to banks, because banks only pay the prices which are lower than the prices offered by gold shops by 200-300 dong per dollar.
The HCM City People’s Committee has released a decision to impose a fine of 400 million dong on Le Thi Lan, the owner of My Hong – My Dung Gold Shop for illegal trading foreign currencies. This proves to be the heaviest fine so far.
Prior to that, the Ministry of Public Security caught red-handed the illegal transaction in HCM City, seizing 500,000 dollars and 10.63 billion dong.
Nguyen Hoang Minh, Deputy Director of the HCM City Branch of the State Bank, said that though gold shops have been requested not to trade foreign currencies illegally, they still have been carrying out the illegal transactions. He said that the central bank would inspect real estate and schools to find out the violators.