1. The crime of usury under the provisions of criminal law
Article 201 of the Criminal Code of 2015 (amended and supplemented in 2017) of Vietnam provides for this crime as follows:
"Article 201. Usury in civil transactions
1. Any person who offers loans at an interest rate that is five times higher than the maximum interest rate specified in the Civil Code and earns an illegal profit of from VND 30,000,000 to under VND 100,000,000 or recommits this offence despite the fact that he/she has incurred an administrative penalty or has an unspent conviction for the same offence shall be liable to a fine of from VND 50,000,000 to VND 200,000,000 or face a penalty of up to 03 years' community sentence.
If the illegal profit earned is ≥ VND 100,000,000, the offender shall be liable to a fine of from VND 200,000,000 to VND 1,000,000,000 or face a penalty of 06 - 36 months' imprisonment.
The offender might also be liable to a fine of from VND 30,000,000 to VND 100,000,000, be prohibited from holding certain positions or doing certain works for 01 - 05 years.
The highest interest rate specified in the Civil Code is 20%/year of the loan amount, unless otherwise provided by relevant laws.
Resolution 01/2021/NQ-HĐTP also further instructs, if lending with other assets (not money), the value of such assets must be converted into money at the time of transferring the borrowed assets.
Thus, the person who commits the act of usury may be sentenced to up to 05 years of imprisonment, in addition to being liable to a fine and a ban from holding certain positions, practicing certain occupations or doing certain jobs.
2. Criminal prosecution in some specific cases
Resolution 01/2021/NQ-HĐTP provides specific guidance on the prosecution for usury in civil transactions in some cases as follows:
(1) Where a person repeatedly commits usury, but the illegal profit-taking amount of each crime is VND 30,000,000 or more, if each crime has not been examined for penal liability and the statute of limitations for criminal liability prosecution has not expired, in addition to being imposed a penalty frame corresponding to the total illegal profit-taking amount, they shall also be imposed the aggravating circumstance of criminal liability "committing the crime 02 times or more" specified at Point g, Clause 1, Article 52 of the Criminal Code.
(2) Where a person commits multiple usury acts but the illegal profit collections are less than VND 30,000,000 but the total amount of illegal profit collections is VND 30,000,000 or more, and such acts have not been sanctioned for administrative violations, have not yet expired the statute of limitations on administrative penalties, the offender shall be examined for penal liability with a penalty frame corresponding to the total amount of illegal profit collections of usury acts, without applying the aggravation of criminal liability "crimes 02 times or more" specified at Point g, Clause 1, Article 52 of the Criminal Code.
(3) Where a person commits multiple acts of usury, including one usury, illegal profit collection of VND 30,000,000 or more, and this usury has not yet expired the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution; and other usury, illegal profit collection of under VND 30,000,000, these acts have not been sanctioned for administrative violations and have not yet expired the statute of limitations for administrative violations, he/she shall be examined for penal liability with a penalty frame corresponding to the total amount of illegal profit collection of usury, without applying the aggravation of criminal liability "offence of 02 times or more" specified at Point g, Clause 1, Article 52 of the Criminal Code.
(4) Where the usury lender performs various acts related to debt collection (such as using force, threatening to use force, threatening the spirit, causing injury, causing damage to health or other acts to take property,...), they shall, on a case-by-case basis, also be criminally sanctioned for the corresponding crime, if there are sufficient elements constituting the crime.
(5) Where the usury lender seeks to make an illegal profit of VND 30,000,000 or more, but the lender has not made an illegal profit or has made an illegal profit of under VND 30,000,000, it shall be examined for penal liability according to the penalty frame corresponding to the total amount of illegal profit earned by it.
The determination of the amount of illegal profit shall comply with the instructions in Article 6 of this Resolution.
When deciding on penalties, the courts shall apply Article 15 and Clause 3 Article 57 of the Penal Code on crimes not yet committed.
Some actual trial judgments on the crime of "usury in civil transactions" from the beginning of 2022, please read together:
Judgment on usury in civil transactions No. 08/2022 /HS-ST
Nguyen Dang A lent money for a total of three loans of VND 45,000,000, with interest rates from VND 33,333 to VND 41,778/VND 1,000,000/day, equivalent to interest rates from 1216.7%/year to 1524.9%/year, 60.8 times to 76.2 times the maximum interest rate prescribed by the State. Nguyen Dang A has collected 58,000,000 dong of interest, of which the interest under the State regulations is 797,260 dong, the interest exceeds the regulations is 57,202,740 dong.
The court issued a decision declaring the defendant Nguyen Dang Â guilty of "usury in civil transactions". Punish the defendant Nguyen Dang Â 12 (twelve) months of non-custodial reform.
Judgment on usury in civil transactions No. 09/2022 /HS-ST
Dau Van S uses his money to lend to many people at an interest rate of VND 1,500,000/VND 10 million/month, equivalent to an interest rate of 15%/month, more than 9 times the legal interest rate as prescribed by the law in Article 468 of the Civil Code of 20%/year. Thus, Dau Van S took advantage of money lending activities in civil transactions, using the total principal amount of 155,000,000 VND to lend to 5 borrowers in a continuous manner, next to each other in time.The total amount collected is 116,250,000 VND; of which the amount of illegal profit is 103,000,053 VND. The borrowers owe the defendant the principal amount of 55,000,000 VND.
The court decided to punish Dau Van S 04 months in prison for "usury in civil transactions".
Judgment on usury in civil transactions No. 42/2022 /HS-ST
Nguyen Tien V and Dao Viet A, Phung Van S and Vu Van T agreed to donate money to lend for interest. After many times lending to many people at a high interest rate of 182.5%/year, from 429.41%/year to 608.33%/year,... the total interest collected is: VND 6,000,000, of which the legal interest is: VND 252,054,795; So, the amount of illegal profit is VND 5,747,945,205.
The court found the defendants guilty of "usury in civil transactions". Punish the defendant Nguyen Tien V (Other name is B) 01 (One) year 06 (Six) months of non-custodial reform, the defendants Dao Viet A, Vu Van T and Phung Van S 01 (One) year of non-custodial reform.