Vietnam customs personnel reassigned for letting contraband pass

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Ho Chi Minh City police and market managers check a Chinese shipment for illegal goods January 9. Photo by Dam Huy

Two customs officials in Ho Chi Minh City have been reassigned for conducting a check improperly, allowing an illegal 10-container shipment of dubious origin to pass through Vietnam Customs undetected.

Police checks on Thursday on two of the containers found that only 15 packages were checked, while customs rules required at least 5 percent of a container, meaning 52 packages in this case, be checked before it is passed.

Nguyen Phuoc Tuong and Bui Anh Tuan, who were in charge of checking the containers, have been reassigned to new positions pending the conclusions of the ongoing investigation.

The city police and market managers started checking the shipment imported from China Wednesday at a rate of two containers per day. They seized the shipment on the night of December 30 just outside of Vict port after it got a pass from customs officials.

A source said they were tipped off about a big contraband.

The second two containers contained copious quantities of cosmetics that appear to have been made in China, but the labels do not specify their origins.

Some have false labels claiming the products were made in Vietnam's southern province of Dong Nai, and contain instructions in Vietnamese, which a police officer called a "sophisticated" method of disguising illegal Chinese products in local markets.

A market manager said the importer is trying to evade responsibility by hiding products that require permits from the Health Ministry of be sold.

Police also found among the cargo more than 200 kilograms of packages imitative of the Singaporean essential oil brand Eagle.

Electronic firecrackers and sewing machines were found in the first two containers, while the invoice claimed the shipment contained lamps, decorative paper and envelops.

Police estimated the real content is worth thousands of dollars more than the price listed on the invoice.

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The shipment was said to be imported by two private companies directed by Ho Sam Dung and Tran Thi Thu Sang.

Dung's company was closed when the police visited and neighbors said it ceased operating and removed its signboard early this year, just after the shipment was seized by the police.

Sang's company was unregistered with city authorities; its listed address is a residential home.

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