Vietnam arrests American national over alleged major VAT refund scam

By Dinh Muoi - Ngoc Tho, Thanh Nien News

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 Fashion accessories confiscated in a VAT refund scam allegedly committed by a Vietnamese-American in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre
Customs officers in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday nabbed an American national for allegedly raking in at least VND2.2 billion (US$100,900) in a value-added tax refund scam that begun in 2014.
The 39-year-old suspect, reportedly a Vietnamese American whose identity has remained unknown, was caught when he arrived at Tan Son Nhat airport on a flight from Kuala Lumpur with VND624 million ($28,600) worth of luxury fashion accessories.
Early that day he left HCMC for the Malaysian capital city after allegedly claiming over VND48 million ($2,200) in VAT refunds for the very same items, including ties, handbags and belts.
The man allegedly conducted the scheme since last year and pocketed over VND2.2 billion, the customs department said, adding that  relevant agencies in HCMC and Hanoi are collaborating in investigating the case further.
Vietnam started offering VAT refunds to foreign tourists in July 2012.
Under Vietnamese laws, goods eligible for the tax refunds must be brand new and worth at least VND2 million ($95).
Foreigners are given 60 days from the date of purchase to claim the tax.

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