Italian luxury goods masquerading as Chinese to evade tax in Vietnam?

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The Ho Chi Minh City police are investigating possible tax evasion by an importer who tried to pass off a large consignment of Italian luxury goods as cheap Chinese products. 

The city police department's economic crime investigation division (PC46) found the items on four trucks that were taking them to a warehouse at the Sheraton Saigon Hotel in District 1 on November 27.

One of the trucks was searched after it reached the warehouse in the hotel basement, and the officers found cartons containing clothes, handbags, and footwear made by Gucci and Dolce&Gabbana.

The three others were found parked nearby and ready to go to the basement.

The warehouse was said to be leased by Milano Gucci Fashion Trade and Services Ltd., Co., which runs a store in District 1. 

PC46 said the goods had been imported by HCMC-based Nam De Company from Hong Kong, and declared to be of Chinese origin and worth US$1.8-7 per item.

The consignment had arrived at ICD Phuoc Long Port in District 9 and cleared there, it said.

It had been taxed less than VND27 million ($1,300) though its worth is likely to be in the tens of billions of dong if the items are genuine, a PC46 official was quoted as saying by news website VnExpress.

Each of the items retails at hundreds, or even thousands of dollars, he added.

A spokesperson for Milano Gucci Fashion Trade and Services Ltd., Co., told Thanh Nien that the company bought genuine goods from Italy and contracted Nam De to import them into Vietnam.

But since they should have been shipped directly from Italy, and Nam De transited them in Hong Kong, Milano-Gucci had refused to take delivery though the consignment had arrived three weeks ago, the spokesman said.

"But somehow the batch was still brought to the warehouse and busted by the police," he claimed.

Customs and Vinacontrol Group Corporation, which was in charge of checking the goods' quality before customs clearance, both said the goods were Chinese-made.

Thanh Nien could not reach Nam De despite repeated efforts.

The investigation is continuing.

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