Vietnam's tax authority has announced plans to inspect a range of companies this year including Big C, a supermarket chain run by France's Casino Group which is currently sought after by major retailers, local media reported.
The General Department of Taxation under the finance ministry will look into 45 companies that operate Big C's stores around the country, according to the ministry's news website Thoi Bao Tai Chinh. These companies are joint-ventures between Casino and local partners.
Local and foreign retail giants have been racing to acquire the second biggest supermarket chain in Vietnam, since Casino announced its plan to sell it along with other assets in Asia and Latin America to cut debt last year.
Vietnam's largest retailer Co.op Mart, Japan's Aeon, Thailand's Central Group and TCC, and South Korea's Lotte were reportedly among the suitors. Some of the first-round bids were said to have exceeded $800 million.
Big C's subsidiaries account for more than half of the businesses that will be inspected by the tax department this year, according to the news website.
Others include major electronics retailer Nguyen Kim, and An Phong Investment JSC, which formerly operated Vietnam's oldest supermarket chain Maximark. Maximark was sold to real estate conglomerate Vingroup last October, it said.
Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical Company, a state energy giant PetroVietnam's subsidiary that operates the country's sole oil refinery Dung Quat, will also be inspected.
The businesses were specifically chosen, the website reported, without providing further details.
Local tax offices around the country have inspected 6,510 businesses in the first three months, equivalent to 7.2 percent of the target of around 90,416 firms set for this year, it said, citing figures from the tax department. The inspected businesses were obliged to pay a total of VND1.61 trillion ($71.3 million) in arrears and fines.
Under a plan announced by the tax department last month, tax inspections aim to bring more than VND10 trillion ($442.9 million) the state budget.
Last year the department inspected nearly 79,300 businesses and collected more than VND12.35 trillion ($545 million), according to official figures.