Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday ordered 11 local gas retailers to be fined and have their licenses revoked for one year for cheating customers with poor-quality fuel.
At a meeting that day, Le Manh Ha, vice chairman of HCMC People's Committee, asked the Department of Science and Technology to calculate losses that customers suffered when buying fuel from the businesses, so that the companies can pay compensation. The violators were ordered to pay the fine of VND50 million (US$2,379) each.
Ha also said that if any fuel trader is found committing the same violation, it will probably face criminal charges.
"Cheating in fuel business brings huge benefits to fraudsters so the act needs to be punished severely as a determent," Ha said, asking related agencies to make plans to frequently inspect all gas stations across the city.
The 11 traders were found selling fuel with a low octane rating (A83) under the labels of A92 and A95, which have higher octane ratings.
The inspections were conducted by the city's market management team in cooperation with other agencies between September 27 and November 16.
Huynh Khanh Hiep, vice director of the Department of Industry and Trade, proposed at the meeting that A83 production should be halted.
According to Hiep, A83 is not being imported into Vietnam, and his department once proposed Vietnam stop producing it domestically.
However, some businesses currently are still allowed to produce and distribute the fuel.
In related news, that day in HCMC, the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Market Management Department instructed its agencies to apply the decree which increase fines for violations in fuel trade from January 1 next year.
The decree stipulates that fuel distributors committing violations be fined VND70 million (US$3,300).
If fuel retailers are found to be selling fuel that doesn't meet the regulated quality standard, they will be fined VND10-20 million (US$475-951) and have their licenses revoked for 12 months.