Vietnam's leading gold producer has asked tax authorities to unfreeze its assets and continue its VAT exemptions so that its mines in Quang Nam Province can get back to work, Darin Lee, Chief Operating Officer of Canada-based Besra Gold Inc. said on Saturday.
The Bong Mieu gold mine is located in Phu Ninh District, while the Phuoc Son site in Phuoc Son District is considered the largest gold mine in Vietnam.
Besra Vietnam, the operator of two gold mines, has had its bank account frozen and its invoices invalidated since April by the Quang Nam taxman over VND300 billion tax arrears, according to Dan Tri news website.
Tax officials responded that they had yet to receive a plan from Besra, explaining how it will repay its debts in the near future.
The office froze Besra Vietnam’s bank accounts and stopped issuing VAT refunds (around 10% per transaction) to the gold producer’s customers in April.
Work effectively stopped at Besra Vietnam’s two gold mines on July 23. This is the second time the tax office punished Vietnam's leading gold producer for outstanding debts.
According to the office, Besra Vietnam reportedly owes around VND350 billion ($17.5 million) in back taxes, including resource taxes, VAT taxes and environmental protection fees. The Phuoc Son Company, the manager of a Besra-owned gold mine, was found to owe $15 million; the other, Bong Mieu, was discovered to owe $2.5 million in taxes.
Bersa COO Lee told VnExpress news website that he hoped the tax administrator would reconsider its punishment, claiming that this has proven the hardest period in the company’s 20-year history in Vietnam.
Lee also said that the closure of its mines has left over 1,000 workers jobless and expressed worries that the company's shuttered mines are increasingly vulnerable to thievery and illegal gold mining.