Vietnamese authorities raided the premises of three of the country’s largest computer assemblers in the capital Hanoi on Wednesday, discovering large amounts of pirated software on the premises, according to a government statement.

This is the most public move made so far against software piracy in Vietnam, which is rated by the Business Software Association (BSA) as having the worst piracy record in the world.

The raid was carried out by the Economic Police office of the Ministry of Security together with the Ministry of Trade on Vinh Trinh Inc., Nhat Hai Technology & Trading Corp. and Silicom Group’s SingPC division, discovering dozens of assembled own-brand computers in each company loaded with pirated software.

Among the illegally installed packages were Microsoft Corp.’s Windows XP, Office XP, Office 2003, Visio and FrontPage plus local company Lac Viet’s Mtd2002 online dictionary.

The average value of software loaded onto each machine was around 10 million dong (US$660), according to the government statement.

“This marks the start of a nationwide campaign to protect intellectual property rights which will be carried out by these two ministries,” the statement said.

The BSA has consistently estimated that Vietnam has a software piracy rate of around 95 per cent — for each legitimately bought package, on average 20 illegal copies are made.