Vietnamese customs officials arrested 23 people, including nine Chinese, for illegally selling to Vietnamese companies oil meant for re-export to evade tax estimated to be worth some VND17 billion (US$807,500).
Customs inspectors said they busted the case Saturday after catching red-handed a foreign ship pumping gasoline to three Vietnamese ships belonging to Thanh Hoa-based Hoang Son Company in waters between Thanh Hoa and Nam Dinh Provinces.
The ship was identified as being owned by a Chinese firm and carrying 2,000 tons of gasoline.
The gasoline which worth VND40 billion ($1.9 million) had been imported temporarily for export to China by sea.
But the foreign ship, instead of transporting the fuel to China as declared to customs, sold them to the Vietnamese firm to evade tax, the inspectors said.
They said the group has operated for long, getting four shipments a month on average but sometimes more, claiming it often faked documents to facilitate the fraud.
The ship, identified as being owned by a company in China's Guangxi Province, has the flags of two nations Cambodia and China -- which has led the inspectors to suspect its documents are fake.
They said that a company in Long Bien District, Hanoi, sold the fuel to the Chinese company. But, it is still unknown who imported it.
Investigations are continuing.
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