ACB branch found selling dollars at unofficial rate

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A branch of the Asia Commercial Bank in Hanoi has been found selling dollars at exchange rates higher than the official rate of VND19,500.

A client, who wanted to be known only as M., told Thanh Nien that her daughter, who is studying in the US, asked M. to send her US$4,000 via the bank to pay her tuition fees.

M. said she used to be able to buy dollars from the bank at the official exchange rate of VND19,500, as long as she could show documents proving that her daughter was studying abroad.

However, on Monday the branch asked her to pay for the dollars at VND20,970, just slightly lower than the black market rate of around VND21,000.

M. said a staff member of the branch explained to her that the bank was facing "a dollar scarcity".

The problem is, M. said, the receipt only showed the official rate. To cover the gap, the branch asked her to sign in another receipt which required her to pay a "transfer fee" of $314.54, or more than VND6 million.

A banking expert said the branch has violated regulations which require banks to sell dollars at the exact official rate to clients who need to travel, study and get medical treatment abroad.

The general director of a large bank in Hanoi who wished to be unnamed told Thanh Nien that it was unreasonable for a bank to offer dollars at black market rates.

He added that the second receipt for "transfer fee" that M. was asked to sign on was a trick that staff members at the ACB branch had used to dodge regulations.

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