Authorities in the central province of Quang Nam are still struggling to collect the back taxes of a Canadian-owned gold mining company, even after many punitive measures they have imposed since 2014.
Bong Mieu and Phuoc Son companies, both run by Canada's gold miner Besra, have defaulted on a total of more than VND422 billion (US$18.64 million), including late payment fines, local media reported, citing Le Mai Khac Hung, deputy chief of the province's tax office.
The latest figure was much higher the estimate of VND300 billion first reported in April 2014 when local authorities started freezing the companies' bank accounts and withholding their value-added tax refunds to force them to pay the dues.
Over the years the companies, which produced a total of 6.9 tons of gold since 2005, have also had their exports blocked and faced several shutdowns, but still failed to clear their back taxes.
Local authorities once said they attempted to confiscate the companies' assets, but the assets had already been used as security for loans.
Huynh Khanh Toan, vice chairman of the People's Committee of Quang Nam, said several agencies, including the provincial tax office, are facing a dilemma.
A file photo shows men working at Phuoc Son Gold Company Limited. Photo credit: baodatviet
While they do not want Bong Mieu's license to be renewed after it expires later this month, they will lose all the money if the company shuts down, he said.
The official said Bong Mieu and Phuoc Son need to work on restructure plans along with plans to pay their tax dues and debts.
Phuoc Son was licensed with an initial investment of $73.4 million, and Bong Mieu $40 million. Their combined reserves were estimated at 20 tons.