Vietnam’s oldest cryptocurrency exchange, Bitcoin Vietnam, recently saw the government seize its domain – – and fine it as it was “operating a blog without a proper license.” The exchange has been operating since 2014, and has played an important role in getting the country’s bitcoin scene off the ground.

According to local news outlet VnEconomy, the cryptocurrency exchange was accused of operating its blog without a proper license from the country’s Ministry of Information and Communication.

Per a document Bitcoin Vietnam shared via Twitter, it’s also accused of providing e-commerce services without registering with the government, and issuing and distributing cryptocurrencies. The document, signed by the Ministry of Information and Communication’s vice-deputy Le Quang Tu Do, reads:

“Under the provisions of Decree No. 96/2014/ND-CP dated 17 October 2014 on administrative handling of monetary and banking activities, issuance, distribution and usage of illegal payment instruments (including bitcoin and other virtual currencies) will be subject to administrative penalties. At the same time as from 01/01/2018, the acts of issuing, distributing and using illegal payment means as above shall be prosecuted for criminal liability under the Penal Code 2015 amended and supplemented in 2017.”

Le Quang Tu Do

Citing the above motives, Bitcoin Vietnam was then hit with a 15 million VND (about $660) fine for operating a blog, and a 25 million VND (about $1,100) fine for giving its readers the ability to comment on articles published in its blog – a move the government sees as an unauthorized social network.

Moreover, the country’s Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information asked the country’s national internet registry, the Vietnam Internet Network Information Center (VNNIC), to suspend the exchange’s domain. In another document Bitcoin Vietnam shared via the social network, we can see VNNIC followed the government’s orders. The document reads:

“VNNIC shall suspend operation of the domain name to be handled by the functional agencies according to the provisions of law. The suspension period is 45 days, from 15:00 on 05/03/2018.”

Tran Minh Tan

At press time, the domain is down. The cryptocurrency exchange seems to be operating under the domain, and has shown it does not agree with the government’s actions. According to some, major players are trying to take a hold of its domain – hence the seizure.