Tran Dinh Viet, 36, and Nguyen Van Cuong, 34, both residents of Hanoi, have been sentenced to nine and seven years behind bars, respectively for smuggling 200 iPhone 6S Plus devices worth over VND3.1 billion (US$131,157).
The People’s Court of Da Nang City in central Vietnam on Wednesday handed down the jail terms to the two men.
According to the indictment, to smuggle mobile phones from Hong Kong to Vietnam, Viet spent VND5 million ($211.6) employing a broker and establishing Tien Manh Company in the broker’s name.
Viet later hired Cuong to complete customs procedures for the company after telling him that Tien Manh would import electronic products to Vietnam, including mobile phones.
Viet gave Cuong legal documents and the company’s seal so that the latter could facilitate customs procedures on behalf of the company.
Using his network, Viet became acquainted with a woman named Xuan in Hong Kong, who bought iPhones at authorized stores there and then sold them to wholesalers in Vietnam.
Viet contacted Xuan to buy iPhones and negotiate payment and transport methods.
After reaching an agreement with Xuan, Viet sent Tien Manh Company’s information to Xuan so that Xuan could locate a Hong Kong-based entity to issue an invoice for the iPhones and contact a freight company that could provide bills of lading.
Viet instructed Xuan to ensure that invoices and bills of lading provided by the freight company falsely specified that the iPhones were uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) so that they would be subject to a lower value-added tax.
After receiving images of the bills of lading and invoices from Xuan, Viet forwarded them to Cuong and asked him to complete import procedures.
Cuong later declared to the local customs agencies that the shipment contained just 40 UPSs, which would be shipped to Da Nang International Airport in the namesake city.
After being transported from the airport’s customs inspection area, the shipment was confiscated by Da Nang police officers on September 29 of this year.
The shipment was later determined to include 200 iPhones 6S Plus devices.