A senior customs officer in southern Vietnam has been dismissed for negligence that led to serious rule violations.
The General Department of Vietnam Customs has issued an administrative warning and removed Huynh Thanh Tam, head of the customs department of An Giang Province, from his position for his oversight in office that resulted in wrongdoings regarding value-added tax (VAT) refunding.
During the time Tam took office, over 40 officials and public servants working at the customs department were investigated and arrested for their misconduct.
As a case in point, many customs officers in An Giang were found abetting several businesses to cheat and appropriate hundreds of billions of dong (VND100 billion = US$4.48 million) from the national budget.
They have been probed by the Ministry of Public Security and the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Police.
Police reports showed that Le Dung, director of a company based in Ho Chi Minh City, colluded with customs officers at Khanh Binh Border Gate in An Giang to create fake export documents in order to benefit from VAT refunds.
The officers would approve necessary paperwork and were paid sums equal to 0.3 percent of the money illegally gained from the firm in return.
Between November 2012 and April 2013, Dung issued 120 false documents stating that his firm had exported goods worth nearly VND447 billion ($20 million).
A total of 46 suspects were arrested for being involved in the scam, of whom 30 were employees at the An Giang customs department.
In a similar case, directors of two Vietnamese firms were discovered bribing several officers at the customs department in order to have their counterfeited paperwork approved.
The companies prepared many such documents showing that the total value of their exports was VND2.329 trillion ($104.47 million) and were given VND223 billion ($10 million) in tax refund.
Fifteen customs officers were detained by police for abusing their powers that caused serious consequences in this case.
Tran Quoc Hoan, deputy chief inspector at the General Department of Vietnam Customs, has been appointed as Tam’s replacement, according to a Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper source.
Tam was supposed to be seconded to the General Department of Vietnam Customs. However, he has requested to work in his hometown due to old age and is expected to assume the post of deputy director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade.
The former customs official is considered for the position because he was not directly involved in the said violations, while his capacity could still be needed somewhere in the province, Vo Anh Kiet, deputy secretary of the An Giang Party Committee, explained.