Le Minh Quang at a police station after his arrest last Thursday. Photo courtesy of Hai Phong police
Police in the northern city of Hai Phong have launched an investigation into the director of an illegal gold trading firm which has attracted around US$25 million from 1,000 investors across Vietnam.
Le Minh Quang, 32, general director and chairman of BBG Financial Group, was arrested on May 28 for his illegal business activities after his attempt to flee to Laos failed.
Following the arrest, police raided the headquarters of the BBG group in Hai Phong and seized documents showing illegal gold trading activities of its affiliates around the country.
They also searched the offices of BBG’s affiliates in 10 cities and provinces.
Quang reportedly established the BBG group in 2010. Since then, the group has expanded rapidly and has 18 branches around the country with 600 employees.
BBG operated like a virtual trading floor for gold, jewelry, foreign currencies and gemstones, and as a financial consultant and loan provider, attracting more than 1,000 investors.
It offered very high interest rates to attract the investors.
For example, those who sent their gold savings to the company will receive an annual interest rate of up to 11.5 percent. That compares to the deposit rates of 4-5 percent banks offer to dong savings.
Police said the group managed to collect around VND547 billion from investors in the last five years. But most of the money was gone.
They said Quang used the money to cover high interest payments, operating costs and personal expenses.
Quang did a lot of jobs before becoming the highest-earning employee of a financial consultancy firm in HCMC in 2008. He started training courses on financial investment and called himself “Bill Buck.”
He said he would be remembered by many as a "gold prophet."
Under Vietnamese law, keeping gold and trading gold are the business activities that must be approved and monitored by the government.
Online gold trading has been banned since March 30, 2010 when the government tightened controls on the precious metal to discourage its widespread trade.