Following a high-level proposal in July to ban the import of all cryptocurrency mining equipment to Vietnam, the Vietnam Customs Department has announced a total ban on all imports of mining rigs, according to a local news outlet.
The ban comes as the country is grappling with the fallout from the July Sky Mining scandal, in which the CEO of a crypto mining company ran away with more than $ 35 million in company funds and of investors.
Zero tolerance position
According to data from the Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department, in July 2018 the authorities closed the imports of mining cryptography equipment. Before the restriction, individuals and companies in the country brought in more than 3,664 mining rigs between January and June. These imports mainly consisted of Bitmain’s Antminer ASIC equipment.
Last year, more than 7,000 mining rigs were imported into the country despite the government’s notorious anti-crypto stance. However, following the Sky Mining scandal last month, local Vietnamese media reports that the Vietnam Customs Department almost instantly imposed total restrictions on the importation of miners, indicating that the government’s negative stance on cryptography has become an open restriction.
Before the policy change, the government of Vietnam had a reputation for being unwilling to regulate the cryptocurrency industry, bluntly stating last year that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are not “legal means of payment.” He also explicitly stated that the issuance or use of crypto as a means of payment in Vietnam is prohibited, indicating that he had no intention of officially committing to crypto financing, regardless of whether the government has the resources to suppress it or not.
Despite the rhetoric, mining crypto persisted as big business in Vietnam, and the port authorities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City issued authorization for thousands of mining rigs intended to mine bitcoin and litecoin in 2017.
Officially, dealing with cryptocurrency trading has carried the risk of criminal prosecution and a fine of up to $ 9,000, but, until recently, the government generally seemed to turn a blind eye to crypto mining.
In May, the government decided to fine bitcoin.vn, a popular Vietnamese crypto exchange. The following month, Sky Mining investors, already spooked by regulatory assault on crypto companies, realized that people claimed to be “handymen” who were cleaning the company’s mining facilities. Staff transported the mining rigs to an unknown destination, while investors were left with no more information than a Facebook post from CEO Le Minh Tam, where he apologized and vowed to file for bankruptcy.