The Ho Chi Minh City tax department is refuting claims that it coercively debited VND3.15 trillion ($135.77 million) from Thai-run brewer Sabeco’s bank accounts, insisting that the accounts are only frozen and their balance remains untouched.
Saigon Alcohol Beer and Beverages Corporation (Sabeco), the largest brewer in Vietnam, accused the Ho Chi Minh City tax department last week of breaking several laws by collecting VND3.15 trillion in unpaid tax and fines by debiting the company’s Vietnam bank accounts without proper authorization.
Sabeco, now run by a Thailand-based parent company, insists it has violated no tax laws and warns that it will take “immediate legal action” to protect its rights.
Refuting Sabeco’s claims, the municipal tax department claims it hasn’t touched Sabeco’s money and all has only demanded that the company’s accounts be temporarily frozen, according to Tran Ngoc Tam, director of the Ho Chi Minh City tax department.
“The tax department has requested that Sabeco provide information regarding its other bank accounts, but the company has not complied,” Tam said on Tuesday.
Tam added that his department is following official protocol in its attempts to collect Sabeco’s unpaid excise tax and fines worth a combined VND3.15 trillion.
The whopping sum includes more than VND2,645 billion ($113.8 million) in excise tax that Sabeco failed to pay between 2007 and 2015, as well as an additional VND494 billion ($21.25 million) administrative penalty.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Wednesday issued an emergency dispatch asking the finance ministry and the Ho Chi Minh City administration to instruct the municipal tax department to halt and unauthorized collection of Sabeco’s tax and fines.
“Proposals by state auditors and government inspectors concerning the case of Sabeco are being considered,” Mai Tien Dung, Minister and Chairman of the Government Office, said, citing the premier’s order.
“The situation involves a foreign entity, so that must be taken into careful consideration.”