The General Department of Vietnam Customs’ Anti-smuggling and Investigation Department said it would send a dossier on the case to the Ministry of Public Security for further investigations before reaching a final decision.

According to the Ministry of Finance, in May the company temporarily imported 5,463 tonnes of petrol from Singapore and then re-exported 2,330 tonnes to a Chinese firm by sea before the Government had issued a ban on re-export via sea.

The customs agency was seeking approval to confiscate the fuel being exported to a dummy Chinese partner, only for it to be sold domestically.

In early July Vinapco made seven customs declarations to re-export tonnes of petroleum worth VND8 billion (USD383,509) through Ta Lung Border Gate in Cao Bang Province to a Chinese firm named as the Beihai Seafood and Oil Supply Limited Company.

However, they did not re-export the fuel through the Ta Lung as declared but instead sold domestically in Hai Duong, Thai Binh, Phu Tho and Thai Nguyen provinces.

The Chinese firm named in the export declaration documents does not exist.

After red flags were raised, the department started investigations in late July.

After becoming aware of the investigation, the firm allegedly borrowed petrol from other companies to offset their missing inventories. They kept seals and glued them back together, continuing to seek approval from customs to re-import the fuel because their Chinese partner had refused delivery.

Haiphong customs allowed them to re-import the fuel.

It is suspected that the firm evaded VND2.5 billion worth of import, excise and value added taxes, excluding several other fees.

Nguyen Hai Trieu, interim director of Northern Air Petrol Trading Enterprise, a subsidiary of Vinapco, was responsible for seeking Chinese partners and directing the re-export of 296 tonnes of petroleum through Ta Lung border to a Chinese partner and supervising the implementation of the scheme.

Vinapco said it had dismissed a related official to facilitate the investigation.

When asked about the fraud, Trieu said he had yet to receive any documents related to the case.

He said that as he is a director, he could not directly supervise the transportation of fuel from Haiphong to the Ta Lung Border Gate.

He assigned a member of staff only named as Bien to take over the supervision, who then was compelled to return to his home due to family issues when the truck went to Bac Giang Province’s Hiep Hoa area.

According to Trieu, both he and Bien did not know where that truck went to and what their subordinates did after that.

“We are a state-owned enterprise, so we could not be involved in smuggling. Smuggling is conducted for personal benefit,” Trieu said.

Trieu admitted that there had been insufficient supervision, and said the fraud had happened as a result of lax supervision.

In relation to false Chinese partner, he said he had just introduced a Chinese partner to Vinapco but negotiations and the deal were conducted by a specialist working group at Vinapco.

Dan Tri News - December 05, 2012