Vietnam titanium exporter suspected of evading $2.3 mln in taxes

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 Luck Fortune carries 4,800 tons of titanium of Binh Thuan Minerals Trade and Investment JSC. It was detained in the southern province of Ba Ria - Vung Tau last year end on suspicion of using fake documents / PHOTO: HOAI NAM

Vietnam's customs deparment has handed over the police a case in which a titanium exporter in the south-central province of Binh Thuan allegedly faked documents to evade VND48 billion ($2.3 million) in taxes.

Two senior customs officers have also been accused of hushing up the scam at Binh Thuan Minerals Trade and Investment Joint-stock Company, but it is not known yet if they will face criminal charges as well.

Initial findings are that between January 2009 and December 2012, the company exported 33,000 tons of titanium to China. It declared that the batch cost $5.7 million and paid VND14 billion ($662,000) in taxes.

However, customs inspectors found that it was actually worth over $21 million and the exporter was supposed to pay VND62 billion ($2.9 million) in taxes.

The Ministry of Public Security's criminal science division concluded that documents related to the company's export had been forged.

The fraud was discovered after Nguyen Thanh Long, board chairman of the company filed a complaint last year, accusing its general director To Tai Tich of faking export documents to evade taxes.

In March this year, inspectors with the Vietnam Customs' Department of Post-clearance Checking submitted all documents related to Binh Thuan's export to Phan Dang Hung, deputy head of the department, for approval.

But, Hung ordered them to suspend their investigations and await the police's conclusions. His order was also approved by Duong Phu Dong, head of the department.

In July, Long of the Binh Thuan Company lodged another complaint, accusing the two customs officials of covering up the fraud.

In their conclusion on the complaints, the Vietnam Customs' inspectors said the order made by Hung and Dong to stop the investigation was "baseless".

They said that the officials have incorrectly reported to the customs  department's leaders that police were investigating the case and proposed a suspension. In fact, no police agency was probing Binh Thuan's dubious export of titanium to China then

Towards the end of last year, the Ministry of Public Security's environmental department (C49) launched an investigation.

Police then suspended the company's export of 4,800 tons of titanium on suspicion that the export documents were faked.

But, in April this year, the shipment was allowed to take place after the police found no violations, the Phap luat TPHCM (HCMC Law) newspaper reported.

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