Ho Chi Minh City police have proposed smuggling charges against four people for allegedly importing luxury vehicles from the US under the names of overseas Vietnamese to evade over VND218 billion (US$10 million) in taxes.
All the suspects, including an immigration officer, could face sentences ranging from a 20-year jail term to death, considering the imported vehicles were valued at more than US$5.2 million in total.
According to the police, between 2011 and 2013, Nguyen Quang Vinh, 33, and his accomplices brought cars from luxury brands such as BMW and Porsche, and motorcycles into Vietnam.
They declared the vehicles as properties of overseas Vietnamese who were returning to Vietnam for permanent residency, so they were exempted from import and value-added taxes under Vietnamese laws.
Vinh together with Tran Phuoc Thanh, 48, and Tran Thai Nguyen, 33 -- all providers of import and export services -- had falsified relevant documents, police said.
Nguyen Giang Lam, 40 and who was then an officer with HCMC Department of Immigration, used overseas Vietnamese's passports to facilitate the smuggling even though these Viet kieu did not return to the country at all.
According to police, the ring conducted the scheme in collaboration with several people in the US, but no further details have been revealed.
By the time the scam was busted, 54 cars and 12 motorcycles had been imported into Vietnam, a local newspaper reported.
Vietnamese authorities have been tightening their oversight of vehicle imports by Viet kieu in recent years, after local media reported that people were abusing the tax exemption policy for tax evasion.