Vietnam police handling virtual currency case

Vietnamese police are investigating a case in which a company illegally carried out online currency exchange transactions related to virtual currency exchange Liberty Reserve (LR) to enjoy price differences.

This is for the first time police in Vietnam have dealt with such a case, Cong An Nhan Dan newspaper cited a Criminal Police Department statement as saying.

The offender is Thinh Vu Joint Stock Company, which was founded by Vu Van Lang, a 30-year-old from Hai Phong City, in 2008.

According to its license, the company operates as a sub-agent for the Hai Phong Branch of the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam to pay overseas remittances to beneficiaries in Vietnam through the Western Union.

However, Thinh Vu engaged in online currency exchange related to LR, an online currency favored by cybercriminals.

Lang bought LR from people both in Vietnam and abroad who are members of online currency exchange websites, and then sold such LR to foreigners to earn the difference. All of these deals were made through the Internet.

These illegal transactions were discorvered after Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security’s Anti-Crime General Department received requests from Turkish police and the US Embassy in Cambodia asking for help in uncovering a ring that was stealing computer data to conduct extortion scams.

According to results from the investigation, even though he didn’t have a license in online currecny exchange, Lang carried out more than 42,500 electronic money deals worth more than US$24 million and pocketed over VND5 billion from 2008 to 2011.

The police have completed their investigation and have referred the case file to the Hai Phong City People's Committee for trial.

The police have completed their investigation and have referred the case file to the Hai Phong City People's Committee for trial.

In related developments, the US Treasury on May 29 charged Liberty Reserve in a US$6 billion money-laundering scheme, international media said.

The company, which used its own transferable tokens (Liberty dollars) to move money from anonymous account to anonymous account and in and out of other currencies, highlights bigger problems plaguing bitcoin, a type of digital currency, and its exchanges.

Also yesterday, federal prosecutors in New York imposed the same charge on Liberty Exchange. They said that many law enforcement officials consider the case to be the largest online money-laundering case in history.

Over seven years, Liberty Reserve was responsible for laundering billions of dollars, conducting 55 million transactions that involved millions of customers around the world, including about 200,000 in the United States, according to prosecutors, the New York Times reported.