Two commune chairmen and two senior police officers in Thanh Hoa Province have become the subject of a criminal investigation surrounding a Viet kieu (overseas Vietnamese) who smuggled 12 cars into the country.
Viet kieu are defined as Vietnamese people holding a valid foreign passports or papers of equal value, or those living overseas with legal papers for permanent residency.
Hoang Van Tao, suspended chairman of Ha Thai Commune of Ha Trung District, his deputy police chief Vu Van Cuong, his counterpart Nguyen Viet Thuc from Ha Binh Commune, and Bui Van Lua, suspended police chief of Ha Binh, are being investigated on charges of abusing their official positions, Thanh Hoa police said June 14.
Investigators found that the four had forged documents to help the Viet kieu smuggle the cars, avoiding to pay more than VND14 billion (US$660,240) in taxes.
Vietnam now imposes import tariffs of up 80 percent on foreign cars but is set to cut that on cars originating in ASEAN to 50 percent this year and further down the road. Other than that, foreign cars are subject to special consumption and value-added taxes.
Last April, the country made an effort to prevent car smuggling by Viet kieu by limiting returning expatriated Vietnamese to one duty-free car that needs to be registered for at least six months with at least 10,000 kilometers accumulated overseas.
Official statistics showed significant surge in the number of vehicles imported to Vietnam as Viet kieu assets in 2012 and 2013.