The Japanese police have announced that they have caught a criminal ring which has been remitting money illegally to Vietnam. However, this is just one of a number of rings existing in the country, in which there are many Vietnamese workers.
Japanese Asahi Shimbun reported that a Vietnamese man, Tran Xuan Chinh, 27, was arrested on April 18 on a charge of remitting money illegally.
The reporter also said the Japanese police are conducting further investigations into some other suspected members of the remittance ring, which is believed to be a large scale operation.
The police accused Chinh of remitting money to Vietnam five times in the period of August to November 2013. The total money was 1.06 million Yen, or VND205 million, according Sankei daily.
Remittance services booming
It is very easy to find illicit remittance services in Japan, South Korea or Taiwan, where there are numerous Vietnamese workers who need to transfer their monthly pay to their relatives in Vietnam.
It is a bit more difficult to find services of this kind in the US, Europe or Australia, where there are fewer unskilled Vietnamese workers.
As the remittance demand has been increasing rapidly because of the increasingly high number of overseas Vietnamese, the remittance service has boomed. Not only professional companies, but individuals, including students, have also set up money remittance rings of their own.
Mai Anh, 22, in Hanoi, who studied in Taiwan two years ago, said that students could easily prove the legal origins of their money (student grant or extra jobs). Illegal workers had no other choice than to contact the remittance rings for money transfers.
This gave Vietnamese students an opportunity to make money by helping the workers send money to Vietnam.
Vietnamese who trade goods carried to Vietnam by travelers across the borders, could also serve as remittance service providers.
Nguyen The Ngoc, a Vietnamese trader in Japan, said in the past, he always needed big sums of Japanese Yen to collect goods to send to Vietnam for sale. His relatives in Vietnam sold the goods he sent for VND and sent money back to Ngoc for working capital.
However, Ngoc now doesn’t have to wait for his relatives to send money from Vietnam. “I collect goods with the money I receive from the Vietnamese workers who have a need to transfer funds to their relatives in Vietnam. Meanwhile, my relatives in Vietnam pay in VN dong to the workers’ relatives in Vietnam,” he explained.
An official of the Money-Laundry Prevention Agency under the State Bank of Vietnam said the agency has heard about the arrest of a Vietnamese for his illicit money remittances. However, his agency has not received any official request for cooperation in investigation from the Japanese side.
When asked if the service is legal or illegal, the official said the service may be “unofficial” or “illegal”, depending on the laws the countries have on their books.
As for Vietnam, all activities relating to international payments require a license.