Vietnam Airlines staff allegedly involved in theft in Japan

By Mai Ha, Thanh Nien News

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A crew member of national carrier Vietnam Airlines is under suspicion of buying goods stolen by a Vietnamese ring in Tokyo.
The case was reported by the Japanese-owned Sankei Shimbun newspaper on Thursday, but Le Truong Giang, spokesman of the airline, said the company has yet to receive any official request for an investigation from Japanese law enforcement agencies.
Vietnam Airlines is willing to cooperate with Japanese agencies upon such requests, he said.
According to Sankei Shimbun, local police arrested four Vietnamese people for allegedly stealing cosmetics and clothes at supermarkets in December last year.
They then sent the goods, most of which were popular brands like Uniqlo and Shiseido, to a 30-year-old Vietnamese woman by post.
The goods would then be forwarded, also by post, to a hotel near Narita International Airport, where a member of Vietnam Airlines’ flight crew would buy them and transfer money to the woman via banks.
The Japanese newspaper reported that in Hanoi, the prices of some Japanese cosmetics are cheaper than those sold in Japan, especially in an area near the headquarters of Vietnam Airlines.
Many products still have the price tags from stores in Japan.
It quoted Japanese police as saying that the number of Vietnamese arrested in Japan for theft is increasing, accounting for 40 percent of foreign thefts.
Last month, police in Fukuoka Prefecture apprehended five groups of Vietnamese thieves.
In 2009, Japanese police arrested Dang Xuan Hop, a Vietnam Airlines pilot, on suspicion of smuggling.
He was kept in custody for a few months in Japan before local police dropped charges against him.
But Vietnam Airlines still suspended him from flying for one year.
Giang, the Vietnam Airlines spokesman, said the airline requires its staff to sign an agreement not to smuggle and that anyone who violates the rule will be punished.
He also said flying crews’ suitcases are scanned at airports just like passengers.

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