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SBV gets tough with interest rate violators

Update: May, 07/2016 - 09:00
Photo taken of a customer at a Maritime Bank office in Hà Nội. Việt Nam’s central bank will issue a directive to accelerate inspections on violations. -- VNA/VNS Photo Trần Việt
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – The State Bank of Việt Nam will strictly tackle credit institutions which violate regulations on interest rates, said a bank official.

Nguyễn Đức Long, the deputy head of the SBV’s Monetary Policy Department, made the announcement after recent reports said some commercial banks were offering interest rates for US dollar deposits at higher levels than the cap of zero per cent.

He said the central bank will issue a directive to guide lenders to stabilise the monetary market, especially the foreign exchange market, while accelerating inspections to handle violations.

A violating credit institution may be subject to the heaviest punishment of being banned from expanding its network for a period of time, he said.

The SBV asked commercial banks to lower the dollar deposit rate from 0.25 per cent per year to zero per cent per year, applying for institutional depositors as from September 28, 2015.

It also stipulated the annual dollar deposit rate of zero per cent for individual depositors from December 18, 2015.

Long said this was part of the central bank’s measures to restrict dollarisation in the economy and stabilise the foreign currency market.

The policies were also expected to enable the central bank to operate exchange rates more flexibly and help the country control inflation and stabilise macro-economic conditions.

The measures have contributed to stability in the foreign currency market during the first four months of this year, with exchange rates and the liquidity of foreign currencies showing good performances, said Long.

During a major bankers’ meeting last April 27, SBV Governor Lê Minh Hưng asked credit institutions to strictly obey the central bank’s stipulations.

However, some banks were reportedly offering higher dollar deposit rates such as one per cent, or 0.25 per cent plus gifts and special services.

A bank teller told Việt Nam Television (VTV) on the condition of anonymity that with a deposit worth more than US$30,000, this bank offered a customer three rate options: 0.5 per cent per year for a six-month term, 0.8 per cent for 12 months, and 1 per cent for 13 to 18 months.

Some bank employees reportedly guided customers to make dollar savings books, mortgage them for loans in đồng, and deposit the loans to enjoy the interest rate difference amounting to 1 per cent.

Commenting on such a trick, Maritime Bank Deputy General Director Đặng Tuyết Dung said some employees were intentionally making mistakes and their actions did not represent the policies of banks.

“Once violating SBV regulations on purpose, they may be sacked. They may even have to compensate for damages if they cause financial losses for the banks,” she told VTV.

Banking expert Nguyễn Trí Hiếu told Tiền Phong (Vanguard) online that by prohibiting violating credit institutions expanding networks, the central bank would hit their “essential point”.

However, some industry insiders said capping the dollar deposit rates at zero per cent was still an administrative order, so it would be hard for this policy to be thoroughly effective.

According to the SBV, annual interest rates ranged between 0.8 per cent and 1 per cent for đồng deposits without terms or with terms of less than a month, during the last week of April.

The đồng deposit rates were 4.5 per cent to 5.4 per cent for terms of a month to less than six months, 5.4 per cent to 6.5 per cent for terms of six months to less than 12 months, and 6.4 per cent to 7.2 per cent for terms of 12 months or longer. – VNS

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