​Newly-wealthy Vietnamese ethnic minorities heavily indebted to loan sharks

A number of ethnic minority group farmers in the central province of Quang Ngai have been plunged into heavy debts by succumbing to loan sharks with extremely high interest rates Residents of Cor ethnic minority group in Tra Tho Commune, Tay Tra District were offered compensation sums of up to US$43,880 (approx VND1billion) after being relocated for the construction of Nuoc Trong Reservoir. The farmers’ dreams of changing their lives for the better after receiving the handsome amounts of money were shattered by the circling of loan sharks, putting them at risk of incurring heavy debts as well as other repercussions. From his new house at the relocation quarter, Ho Van Tram, in his 70s, wistfully stared at his old village, a few hours’ walk away. His old village was no longer an idyllic neighborhood as construction of the reservoir began in 2007. He shared had would never have imagined himself pocketing VND770 million ($33,895) as site clearance compensation, which then soon landed him in trouble. All that remained was a mere VND200 million ($8,803) after the remainder vanished in an instant. A loan shark demanded Tram pay him VND200 million to cover his youngest son’s debt, the old man recalled. Upon his son’s admission that he had borrowed from the loan shark, Tram had no choice but to pay the usurer the sum. The elderly father settled more of his son’s crippling debts following additional loans until he refused to do so as there was only around a quarter… [Read full story]

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