December 10, 2019 23:49

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Prevention of origin fraud: Investigate six enterprises in the wood sector

13:37 | 17/07/2019

VCN- Director of the Anti-Smuggling Investigation Department (General Department of Customs) Nguyen Phi Hung announced origin fraud investigations of six wood firms at an online conference of the General Department of Customs on July 15.

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Director of the Anti-Smuggling Investigation Department Nguyen Phi Hung at the Conference. Photo: T. Binh.

Proactively prevent violations of origin

Regarding hot issues, special attention is on foreign goods taking advantage of Vietnam origin (C/O) to export to third countries to enjoy preferential treatment, Nguyen Phi Hung said, with the geopolitical position of Vietnam and in the context of the trade war of major countries like the United States, China, EU, Japan, and South Korea this situation has many complicated developments.

"With the assigned tasks, for many years, Vietnam Customs has paid great attention and actively in controlling and combating C/O fraud. Customs forces have discovered, arrested and handled a number of cases, such as the thousands of tonnes of honey of Chinese origin, taking advantage of Vietnamese origin to take to other countries. Or the timely detection and halting an incident threatening to bring millions of tonnes of aluminum products from abroad into the type of bonded warehouse to get C/O Vietnam can export to the third country...” he stressed.

In particular, with recent complicated developments, directed by the Ministry of Finance, the General Department of Customs continues to take the initiative.

Notably, the Anti-Smuggling Investigation Department is focusing on investigating six large enterprises operating in import and export of wood and wood products with abnormal growth in turnover.

"Particularly in 2018, enterprises importing plywood from China had an abnormal increase in turnover of tens of millions of USD, hundreds of billions of VND," leaders of the Anti-Smuggling Investigation Department said.

Via investigation, customs authorities identified a number of violations like using a raw material purchase and sale contract, but signing without permission; certificate of fake land use in the document to prove materials are produced in Vietnam.

At the customs office, the business representative also admitted purchasing materials such as glue and eucalyptus from households; there are also cases of using the value-added invoice for many shipments to apply for C/O with the number of goods exceeding the quantity on the invoice.

In some cases, enterprises import semi-finished boards from China to produce timber but do not declare in the C/O application dossier, in the investigation process and the Anti-Smuggling Investigation Department detected acts of buying illegal contracts to buy acacia and eucalyptus materials of households for the purpose of applying for C/O (Vietnam) for export.

During investigation, Customs authorities also determined the responsibilities of some local governments and other management agencies, because concerned people confirmed they were not granted forest land use right certificates but still declared to be granted for planting export wood.

Alarmingly, there are signs that some commune People's Committees loosened management by signing for some applications for exploitation permits and list of exploited forest products.

For licensing agencies, the Anti-Smuggling Investigation Department identified a number of unspecified forest product exploitation lists, without the forest owner's signature, which is not valid but the licensing agency still grants C/O; even in many lists, there is a lack of criteria, overlap, false declarations, and even conflicting claims, but licensing agencies still granted licenses.

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Temporary shoes imported from China to Hai Phong port remain intact but inside the goods are made in Vietnam, discovered and arrested by Customs authorities.

In addition, the Anti-Smuggling Investigation Department also discovered Huu Nghia Company (Lang Son) imported thousands of products from China but recorded production in Vietnam; there are companies that import raw products from China but express them as Viet Tiep keys, products with famous brands of Vietnam; there are even companies that import goods from China but have a well-known brand.

In Ho Chi Minh City, Customs authorities discovered the case of Tran Vuong Company importing billions of dongs of Nonamax amplifiers made in China but recorded Vietnamese origin.

"Clearly, the General Department of Customs, the local Customs Department has drastically, proactively inspected and controlled cases of signs of fraud in Vietnam C/O," Director Nguyen Phi Hung affirmed.

Prosecuting nine law violations

According to Hung, in 2018 and in the early months of 2019, foreign investors and foreigners organised to bring non-standard materials and waste into Vietnam.

Under this situation, the Ministry of Finance and the General Department of Customs have discovered the sudden growth of scrap import activities and have issued drastic instructions.

At the same time, the Ministry of Finance and the General Department of Customs have worked with related ministries and agencies to analyse and point out shortcomings and loopholes in general State management to report to the Prime Minister.

Based on the report of the Ministry of Finance, the Prime Minister has directed very drastically, including continuing to assign the Ministry of Finance and the General Department of Customs to carry out work related to the prevention and building a newmanagement mechanism, and strictly handle violations.

The General Department of Customs has made efforts, leading in the work of preventing and combating violations in importing scrap.

Notably, to date, Customs has prosecuted nine cases of violations relating to the import of scrap. In particular, the Anti-Smuggling Investigation Department prosecuted six cases, Hai Phong Customs Department prosecuted two cases and An Giang Customs Department prosecuted one case.

As a result, the number of waste containers remaining at seaports has decreased by nearly 8,000 containers compared to the end of 2018.

In particular, the process of implementing the inspection and control of scrap import operations by the Customs authorities has discovered new methods and tricks to bring drugs into Vietnam through imported scrap.

By Thai Binh/ Huu Tuc