Ex-head of Vietnam top wine producer arrested for helping tax fraud

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Ho Van Hai (in white jacket), former chief of Vietnam’s top vodka producer Halico, being arrested in Hanoi January 21 for helping its customer fake exports and pocket taxes. Photo courtesy of Lao Dong

A former chief of the Hanoi Liquor Company (Halico) was arrested Tuesday for allegedly helping a Halico distributor evade US$480,000 in taxes.

Ho Van Hai, who stepped down as director last November, is accused of abusing power to commit fraud.

He ordered a subordinate to help the capital-based Hoang Lan Company, whose owners Hoang Van Xuong and his wife Dinh Thi Minh Hoa were arrested the same day, fake export of Halico products to Laos to avoid tax.

Domestic sales entail 45 percent special consumption tax and 10 percent value-added tax.

The scam was busted in September 2012 after customs officials discovered that an export consignment to Laos at the Ha Tinh Province border gate was a hoax.

While documents indicated vodka exports worth nearly US$54,000 to a private company named Le Thi Hai in Vientiane, checks found the container to be empty.

No company of that name was found in Laos either. A student had been hired to act as a representative of the fake company, investigation found.

It turned out that the scam had been going on since 2008, and taxes worth VND10 billion ($480,000) had been evaded in the process.

Hai was arrested at his six-story house in Hanoi.

Nguyen Thi Quynh Trang, a market development staff at Halico, is also under the scanner and has not been arrested only because her child is below three.

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Trang had helped fake export documents for Hoang Lan Company and got paid VND1.5 billion by the company.

Halico is the biggest vodka producer in Vietnam with half the market share.

It reported post-tax revenues of VND700 billion ($38.4 million) in 2012.

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