Vietnamese scrap vendor fights for her found fortune

By Cong Nguyen, Thanh Nien News

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Huynh Thi Anh Hong reads the announcement sent by Tan Binh District's police on May 12, 2015. Photo: Cong Nguyen

A scrap vendor in Ho Chi Minh City who accidentally found more than 5 million Japanese yen (US$42,073) in an old speaker has lodged a complaint against the police Wednesday after they refused to let her claim the money.
Huynh Thi Anh Hong, 36, told Thanh Nien that police in Tan Binh District sent her a written announcement on Tuesday, saying that they need more time to investigate. According to the police, a woman named Nguyen Thi Ngot told them on April 10 that the money belonged to her husband.
Hong would have got the money if no one had made such a claim by April 28, one year after the police issued a notice to find the owner.
Under Vietnamese law, the finder is entitled to at least half of the cash amount if it is classified as “ownerless.” 
But Tan Binh police said they cannot give Hong the money yet as they now need more time to verify Ngot’s claim.
Hong told Thanh Nien she was “extremely disappointed” as the police did not say exactly when they will finish the verification and when they will give her the money.
Meanwhile, Ngot did not give any evidence to support her claim.
On Wednesday morning, Hong lodged the complaint to protest the police’s decision, arguing that the one-year deadline has passed. 
Ha Hai, a lawyer who is representing Hong pro bono, said his client will bring the case to court if the police do not give a satisfactory reply.
He questioned the legal basis on which Tan Binh police chose to extend the deadline to find the money’s owner.
According to Hong, the money was found in a small wooden box hidden inside a speaker, which she bought from a stranger in late 2013 for VND100,000 ($4.63).
She had kept the speaker and only broke it open in March 2014 to recycle the metal.
Japanese bank notes flew out of the box and people nearby tried to grab some. Soon strangers lined up outside her door, all demanding some of the money.
Hong was afraid and called the police.
The police of Tan Binh District then confiscated the money and issued a note to find the owner.
On April 10, Ngot told the police her South African husband named Afolayan Caleb, 48, once told her that he had saved 6 million yen in a box but he could not remember exactly where he hid the box.
In November 2013 Ngot gave the box along with other scrap to a cousin who then sold them to a vendor.
Ngot said her husband earned the money while working as a teacher in Japan.
But since he is currently not in Vietnam, she does not have papers to prove the claim, she said.

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