Vietnam rumormongers not to be charged despite stock market crash

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Three people who spread rumors about the arrest of a bank chief, causing the stock market to tank in February, will not face criminal charges since they were not aware of the possible consequences, authorities have said.

According to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), one of them was fined VND15 million (US$700) for spreading digital information to defame others.

The ministry is considering fines for the other two as well.

MIC inspectors took over from Ministry of Public Security investigators after the latter concluded that the three people's acts were not serious enough to warrant criminal charges.

An MIC inspector who asked for anonymity told Thanh Nien that the trio was not the source of the rumor that Tran Bac Ha, chairman of the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam, was arrested.

They only spread the rumor, according to the official.

The Ministry of Public Security said it is expanding the investigation to probe other people's roles in the affair.

The trio's identities have not been revealed.

One of the three, online nickname Casperkid, said while playing tennis on February 19 another player had claimed Ha was arrested. 

Later Casperkid, 33, who works at a bank in Hanoi, inquired about the rumor on a forum called tathy.com.

The two others one with a technology and manufacturing company in Ho Chi Minh City, and the other working in the environment field posted the rumor almost at the same time on forums f319.com and Vietstock.com.

The MIC inspectors said the three did not know each other and had posted the rumor on the Internet without being fully aware of its effect.

They had not intended to disrupt the stock market and only been showing off, the inspectors said.

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Speaking to the media in February Ha, the BIDV chairman, said the people who started the rumor had possibly earned hundreds of billions on the stock, gold, and forex markets.

In the wake of the rumor, the VN-Index fell by 18 percent, its biggest drop in six months. The dong fell to VND21,000 per dollar for the first time in many months.

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