Vietnam Halts Imports of Cryptocurrency Mining Equipment

According to the Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department, Vietnam is preventing individuals and businesses from importing cryptocurrency mining equipment.

3,664 application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) devices were imported into Vietnam during the first half of 2018. About 3,000 of these machines, primarily Antminer models were imported by four crypto-mining businesses. Antminer devices are a brand of crypto mining equipment developed by Bitmain. The rest of the machines were imported by individuals and firms who did not include import tax codes.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) first introduced the blanket ban in June, following increased scrutiny into the domestic crypto sector after a nationwide ICO scam that reportedly stole an estimated $660 million from about 32,000 Vietnamese investors. The subsequent fallout led Vietnam’s prime minister to order a mass investigation involving agents from six government ministries, the police, and the Vietnamese central bank.

The Ministry of Finance “requires State management agencies to take strict control measures with the import and use of this [crypto mining] commodity” – this led to the eventual ban proposal of the ban, which was backed by the State Bank of Vietnam in July.

Vietnam Customs estimates that some 9,300 ASIC devices were imported into the country in 2017, primarily via Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital.

Currently, cryptocurrencies are banned as payments in Vietnam, after the central bank’s refusal to include cryptocurrencies among the recognized exceptions of non-cash payments such as checks, bank cards, and payment orders. The law, went into force early in 2018, forbids the issuance and usage of any cryptocurrencies as legal tender. The law threatens violators with criminal prosecution and fines of up to $9,000.

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