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11 Vietnamese tax, customs officials suspended over alleged bribery at Japanese firm

Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 13:14 GMT+7
11 Vietnamese tax, customs officials suspended over alleged bribery at Japanese firm
The headquarters of Tenma Vietnam in Bac Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

Eleven tax and customs officials in the northern Vietnamese province of Bac Ninh have been suspended as authorities look into allegations of bribery involving the Vietnam operation of Japanese plastics manufacturer Tenma.

Ngo Xuan Tong, director of the Bac Ninh Tax Department, confirmed to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Tuesday that four incumbent officials and Pham Duc Thuong, a former vice-director of the agency, have been temporarily relieved of their job for 15 days.

Thuong assumed the new position as director of the Tax Revenue Estimation Department at the General Department of Taxation, managed by the Ministry of Finance, less than a month ago.

The General Department of Vietnam Customs confirmed on the same day that six officials at the Bac Ninh Customs Department, including its director Tran Thanh To, had also been suspended for 15 days.

The suspension decisions came at the request of Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung, the ministry said on Tuesday.

They will assist the investigation into allegations of bribery concerning Tenma Vietnam, a subsidiary of Japan’s Tenma Corporation, which specializes in the manufacturing and sale of plastic products.

Tenma Vietnam was established in 2007 in Bac Ninh Province with a charter capital of US$35 million, fully contributed by its parent corporation in Japan.

Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported on May 11 that Tenma Vietnam had given bribes worth VND5 billion (US$214,400) to Vietnamese civil servants in June 2017 and August 2019 to avoid paying corporate and value-added taxes.

The Tokyo-based parent corporation has given their account of the case to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office and reportedly taken the initiative to set up a third-party committee to probe the alleged violation, according to Asahi Shimbun

The Bac Ninh tax office’s director previously stated that the allegations were unilateral.

The company’s chief accountant confirmed that there were no such expenses, he added.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ordered local authorities to promptly investigate the case and impose strict punishment if any violation is detected.

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