THE IRISH Adoption Board has warned Irish couples hoping to adopt children in Vietnam that they must bring $3,000 (about 2,320) in cash to complete adoptions in the country.

Rules for adoption posted on the board's website also insist that couples pay another $3,700 (about 2,863), the first part of the fee, in a banker's draft made out to My Linh Soland, a woman who organises adoptions.

"The balance, $3,000, is paid in cash (usually in $50 and $100 notes to avoid high currency conversion costs) on your arrival in Vietnam, " the board's guidelines state.

The $6,700 (about 5,185) fee is an enormous sum of money in Vietnam where the average salary is $300 a year.

Vietnam is one of the most corrupt countries in Asia. It ranks 75th out of 91 in Transparency International's index of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Kiernan Gildea, registrar of the adoption board, defended the paying of such a large sum of money to a single individual and not to the Vietnamese government. "She was mutually agreed by us and the Vietnamese. They were happy to deal with her, " he said.