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Vietnamese owner of gold shop in dollar exchange case to get back seized diamonds

Wednesday, November 07, 2018, 16:46 GMT+7
Vietnamese owner of gold shop in dollar exchange case to get back seized diamonds
Le Hong Luc, owner of a gold shop in downtown Can Tho City in southern Vietnam that was in September 2018 fined for offering unlicensed currency exchange services. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Authorities in Can Tho City in southern Vietnam have agreed to return diamonds and gemstones they had seized from a local jewelry shop as well as to partially exempt the shop owner from a fine he was subject to over business misconduct after a police raid in January.

The decision was reached on Tuesday after a meeting between Can Tho deputy chairman Truong Quang Hoai Nam and the owner of the gold shop.

Can Tho police raided a gold shop in downtown Ninh Kieu District in January, catching owner Le Hong Luc exchanging a customer’s 100-dollar bill for VND2.26 million in cash.

Officers also conducted a thorough search of the building and seized 20 diamonds and 19,910 artificial gemstones for lacking proof of purchase.

The confiscated assets are valued at more than VND548 million ($23,500).

In September, Luc was slapped with a VND180 million ($7,700) fine for offering an unlicensed currency exchange service and selling products of unclear origin.

The man has paid the fine in full, but he has filed a formal complaint against the confiscation of his diamonds and gemstones, claiming they are his personal property and were not intended for sale.

Last month, Luc said he was considering a lawsuit against Can Tho authorities after it was announced that his seized assets were set to be auctioned off and all proceeds to be added to public coffers.

Truong Quang Hoai Nam, deputy chairman of Can Tho City in southern Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Truong Quang Hoai Nam, deputy chairman of Can Tho City in southern Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre

At Tuesday’s meeting, the administration of Can Tho accepted Luc’s explanation that the seized assets are his personal property, according to a memo of the meeting seen by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

Deputy chairman Nam said he would direct relevant agencies to make necessary steps to partially revoke Luc’s fine and return the confiscated diamonds and gemstones to its owner.

The shop owner’s fine will be cut by VND70 million ($3,000), from VND180 million to VND110 million ($4,700), as he has been cleared of the violation of selling products of unclear origin.

“I’m happy with this result, for it shows that authorities have listened to feedback and worked to help us stay in business,” Luc said.

Earlier this week, authorities in Can Tho also spared a local resident from paying a civil penalty of VND90 million ($3,850) for cashing out a dollar bill at Luc’s gold shop, after considering his financial backgrounds.

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Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News

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