Vietnam charges 45 customs officers, business owners for tax fraud

By Thai Son - Duc Hoa, Thanh Nien News

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Vietnam's top office of prosecutors has filed criminal charges against 34 customs officers, 11 business owners and seven others for faking documents to claim VND42 billion (US$1.85 million) in tax refunds in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang.
The officers, who were with the customs agency at Khanh Binh border gate with Cambodia, allegedly received VND1.7 billion ($75,200) from the businesses, according to an indictment issued by the Supreme People's Procuracy on Friday.
In return, they verified exports documents that had been falsified so the businesses could claim the tax refunds between May 2011 and March 2013, prosecutors said.
Nguyen Thanh Tri and Nguyen Van Bien, who ran the agency between 2008 and 2013, were accused of pocketing 35.7 percent of the money.
All the officers, who were dismissed after the case was busted, face charges of "power abuse," which are punishable by a maximum jail term of 15 years.
The business owners are charged with "fraud" and can be sentenced to life, if convicted.
Led by Le Thi Chi, director of export-import service company Kim Chi, the business owners claimed the refunds with fraudulent export documents and 2,381 value-added tax invoices worth VND444 billion ($19.65 million) bought from local businesses, prosecutors said.
Another seven suspects are prosecuted for illegally trading in invoices and can be jailed for one to five years, if found guilty.

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