Vietnam’s largest brewery, taxman at loggerheads

By Le Chi   January 2, 2019 | 04:56 pm PT
Vietnam’s largest brewery, taxman at loggerheads
Sabeco claims it does not violate Vietnam's tax law. Photo by Reuters
HCMC tax authorities have failed to collect $135.73 million in taxes and fines, while brewer Sabeco has cried foul.

The Tax Department of Ho Chi Minh City informed Vietnam’s largest brewer Sabeco on December 24 that it would withdraw VND3.1 trillion ($135.73 million) from the beer company’s bank account to collect overdue special sales tax from 2007 to 2015 and penalties for administrative violations.

However, the move failed because there was no money left in Sabeco’s Vietcombank account.

Le Duy Minh, deputy head of the department, said that his agency has temporarily blocked Sabeco’s Vietcombank account.

"We have asked Sabeco to provide details of other bank accounts but it has not fulfilled that request," he said.

But Sabeco claims that it has not violated the law.

Sabeco general director Neo Gim Siong Bennett said in a statement Sunday that Sabeco has not violated regulations on the declaration, calculation and payment of special sales tax.

He said the enforcement action by the HCMC Tax Department was a violation of Vietnamese laws, as it was taken "without a valid administrative decision" and "contradicts with the very written guidance issued by the Ministry of Finance, General Department of Taxation and Tax Department of HCMC."

He said Sabeco’s "legitimate interests are being threatened by the inconsistent views among State authorities."

As Sabeco is set to meet with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the tax department will await the meeting’s results before taking further steps, Minh said.

Following Sabeco’s meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Wednesday, the latter has asked the tax department to defer its enforcement actions.

Mai Tien Dung, Chairman of the Prime Minister Office, told VnExpress that government bodies are carefully examining the case as it involves "foreign factors."

In December 2017, Thai Beverage acquired a 53.59 percent stake in Sabeco from Vietnam's Ministry of Industry and Trade for $4.84 billion through a local entity, Viet Beverage (VietBev).

Sabeco, formally known as Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp, recorded revenues of VND25.5 trillion ($1.1 billion) in the first nine months 2018, meeting 70 percent of its annual target.

It occupies approximately 42.8 percent of the domestic beer market, according to the Ho Chi Minh City Securities Corporation. It produced nearly 1.8 trillion litres of beer in 2017.

go to top