Police seek charges against ex-officials in car smuggling ring

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Hanoi police asked prosecutors to press charges against five membersof an alleged car smuggling ring that was broken up last July.


The defendants include two former officials from the northern province of Bac Ninh


According to investigators, in May of 2009 Ngo Doan Phuc, 34, bought four second-hand cars (including a Hummer) with overseas license plates and imported the vehicles into Vietnam. 


He claimed that they would be re-exported to other countries.


Under Vietnamese law, goods that pass through the country to be exported abroad are taxed very little or not at all.


Police say Phuc bought four old vehicles here. He and his accomplices then swapped their plate numbers, and other identifying marks with the imported luxury vehicles.


Investigators said they abandoned the cars in Bac Ninh province before contacting police officials who recorded vehicles as without owners.


When the provincial agencies sold the cars, Phuc ordered someone to re-buy them, using the sale documents to register the foreign cars.


Investigations showed that the four cars were worth a total of nearly VND6.3 billion ($323,159).


Investigators allege that Cao Vu Cuong, a former lieutenant in the Bac Giang police department, and Nguyen Xuan Thuy, an official from Bac Giang's Market Management Bureau, helped Phuc by ignoring regulations like not identifying the owners of the old cars.


In exchange, Phuc paid them $40,000, investigators said.


Hanoi police said they're also seeking charges against Phung Van Luc and Do Manh Dung, who stand accused of aiding Phuc in his scheme.


In the meantime, a search is underway for a sixth suspect in the case, Ngo Doan Quang, whom police say is still at large.


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