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MB24 online trading investigated

Update: August, 01/2012 - 16:41

PHU THO – Ha Noi Police have raided the headquarters of MB24, an online trading company based in Tu Liem District, following allegations the company had appropriated a large amount of money from customers.

Computers and other related materials from the office in My Dinh were seized yesterday.

The search followed accusations by some of the company's customers to police.

MB24 advertises itself as an e-commerce floor where members have the opportunity to buy goods at cheap prices and earn money by developing the company network. It also offers training in online sales and IT skills.

To become a MB24 customer, one has to pay VND5.2million (US$248) to buy a "store space" online. To benefit from this investment, customers have to persuade others to join the network. For each new member, they earn a 30 per cent commission, about VND1.5million ($71).

The more customers thay can attract, the more money they can earn, but there are no refunds.

MB24 has hosted seminars about the network at reputable institutions such as the national university's meeting hall, and in doing so, won the trust of many participants.

After only a year, MB24 has established 51 branches in 32 cities and provinces. Customers of MB24 are mostly cash-strapped people including students, farmers and residents in poor areas with limited knowledge of the internet and e-commerce. Worse still, many of them do not have anybody to introduce the service to.

Commenting on MB24's operation, a representative of the Viet Nam E-Commerce Association (VECOM) Cat Van Khoi told Lao Dong newspaper that the company sold virtual trading spaces, but its commodities were limited so it could not be classified as an e-commerce enterprise.

Last week, VECOM's president expelled MB24 from the association, citing a lack of transparency and public concern that had affected VECOM's reputation as well as people's belief in e-commerce.

Head of MB24s managerial board Nguyen Tuan Minh insisted they had created a playground that permitted members to meet each other to facilitate trade and trust.

Today, Truong Dinh Tuan, director of MB24's branch in the northern province of Phu Tho, and two deputy directors Dang Trung Dung and Nguyen Ngoc Lan were arrested for tax evasion.

The MB24 Dak Lak branch is also under investigation for the same offence. – VNS

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