Vietnam looked so idyllic and promising to 3DN. Through the internet our CEO met a Vietnamese woman, Ms Hai Nguyen. After a romantic entanglement and realizing that the living conditions in Vietnam as well as Ms Nguyen’s personal situation was difficult at best, Mr Leeflang decided to try and help both his business and Ms Nguyen. At first we had high hopes that Ms Nguyen could be trained to become a programmer as her current job as an artist did not seem sufficient to support herself and her daughter. Unfortunately however, Ms Nguyen was incapable of learning programming. As we had started this path with her and also started up 3DN Vietnam with Ms Nguyen as a partner, we decided to try and set up an online art sales shop instead, where Ms Nguyen could mostly freely choose what type of paintings she would make and we would try to set up an online shop as there is a lot of exploitation of artists going on in Vietnam.
Unfortunately Ms Nguyen has turned out to be a con artist. She closed the 3DN Vietnam bank account and stole what money was left on there. She also refuses up to now to ship back 3DN company belongings even though she’s contractually bound to do so. She also stole intellectual property from 3DN (her paintings) and tries to openly sell them through such companies as ArtFinder and BlissArt. Repeated contacting of both companies shows that they absolutely don’t respect intellectual property laws. Showing contracts to these companies, showing salary payments all resulted in nothing. Law enforcement in Vietnam is unfortunately quite unreliable and as a company we advice very strongly against doing business in Vietnam altogether.
Needless to say that Ms Nguyen has been fired from her job for abysmal performance and failure to produce any results.
We have also reconsidered our efforts to deploy further business on Vietnamese soil and decided firmly against it. While the experience above seems mostly a personal one, the results of trying to obtain some form of justice that followed does not bode well for doing business in Vietnam.
3DN Vietnam was set up with the help of a lawfirm, Viet An Law. As a company, when you pay another company good money to assist you with procedures as complex as they are in Vietnam, you may reasonably expect it to be handled well, even if you don’t know the language. Because of the personal relation with Ms Hai Nguyen our CEO made the mistake to be trusting, both towards the lawfirm and to Ms Nguyen’s honesty. As it turns out however, all the signed documents have only been given in Vietnamese. Some serious errors were made by the law firm such as not verifying whether the (mandatory) corporate bank account with the ACB Bank were actually finished properly. It turns out this wasn’t finished properly at all as the corporate bank account holder was Ms Nguyen, the minority (49%) share holder. Only after we found out that Ms Hai Nguyen had closed the bank account and stolen the money left in the account we started loudly complaining to the ACB Bank. After investigating, the ACB Bank replied simply ‘we cannot help you as you are not currently an account holder’. Questions to the ACB bank what paperworks we signed when both Ms Nguyen and myself went to the office at Nguyen Van Luong were not answered. In fact the bank was terribly rude.
Meanwhile, Ms Nguyen had also, without permission to do so, ordered the accounting firm to dissolve 3DN Vietnam. They sent me documents to sign with an implicit threat by Ms Nguyen that I had to sign them or I might have to show up in Vietnamese Court for failure to have a company address (the Company is registered at the address of Ms Nguyen’s apartment which she was able to afford with the salary I paid her, after her job was terminated she failed to change the company address to another address). I never signed these documents as I first want Ms Nguyen to hold her contractual obligations and to return the equipment and intellectual property she still illegally holds). The accounting company, An Pha, sent the documents from a gmail account. It turns out to be an employee of An Pha who took this on himself to provide as a service to Ms Nguyen while An Pha itself does not provide that service. However, the employee did accept the payment for it. Requests to refund the money went unanswered.
All in all, the experience seems grimey at best and collusion to fraud foreigners at worst. A very positive exception is the lawfirm SB Law. This company when contacted provided us with generous advice without even the smallest attempt to charge money for it.
Ms Nguyen now claims that according to her lawyer ‘she was never really a partner in the business’. According to the lawyer Ms Nguyen never funded the necessary capital and was never able to do so. As the legal representative I should have informed her of that and since I’ve been negligent in doing so I may be sued for that. The letter from the lawyer came without any real contact address worth mentioning, reviewing the mail address on Google streetview revealed no lawyer office at all. Again empty threats by a con artist I guess. It’s very clear that 3DN’s CEO funded Ms Nguyen’s starting capital to found 3DN Vietnam as at the time we were also romantic partners, in fact close to ‘family’. While Vietnam in many publications claims to be a ‘family oriented’ culture, this appears to be mostly towards the ‘family consisting of only Vietnamese people’ however, an attitude that seems to ‘bite the hand that tries to help you’.
Needless to say that 3DN Vietnam is dead and will be abandoned but not before Ms Nguyen has fulfilled all her contractual duties. 3DN will not do business in Vietnam as the corruption observed at the personal level is still very much present in the country and we believe it will be a long time before this mindset disappears.