Two officials among those sentenced to prison in Vietnam's car import fraud

By Ky Hoa   September 11, 2018 | 10:09 am GMT+7
Two officials among those sentenced to prison in Vietnam's car import fraud
The defendants in the car smuggling syndicate stand at a trial on Monday. Photo by VnExpress/Ky Hoa

A HCMC court Monday found a police officer and his three accomplices guilty of illegally importing 54 luxury cars.

Nguyen Giang Lam, 43, former officer of the city police's immigration management department, and Nguyen Quang Vinh, 36, were sentenced to 14 years in prison for "smuggling."

Tran Phuoc Thanh, 51, and Tran Thai Nguyen, 36, got 12 and eight years on the same charge, while Bui Khac Ha, 43, a former officer at the Ministry of Public Security’s immigration management department was sentenced to five years for "abuse of power in the performance of official duty."

According to the indictment, the defendants hatched a plan to take advantage of a law allowing Vietnamese living overseas to import a car into Vietnam tax-free when they move back to the country.

Vinh and his two men struck a deal with Lam to import luxury cars into Ho Chi Minh City in the name of Vietnamese expats whose papers were legalized by Ha. The cars' supposed owners had never sought permanent residency in the country, but allegedly allowed the gang to use their names for a fee, the indictment said.

Between January 2011 and the end of 2012, the ring allegedly hired 64 overseas Vietnamese to help them import 54 luxury cars like Rolls Royce, Land Rover, Bentley, Lexus, Audi, BMW, and Porsche besides 12 high-displacement motorcycles for a total of over VND350 billion ($15 million).

They thus evaded taxes of VND136 billion, the court heard.

Lam abused his authority to introduce returning Vietnamese expats to Vinh and signed documents allowing the ring its tax-free car imports, the court said.

It said he pocketed $360,000 from the scheme, while Vinh and Thanh made VND556 million each and Nguyen, VND478 million. It’s not clear how much Ha was paid.

While the trio admitted to their crimes, Lam claimed he did not violate any law and Ha claimed he had only been helping Lam and had no intention of abetting the smuggling.

Besides jailing the five, the court also ordered an investigation of the overseas Vietnamese Vinh's gang had hired to determine if they were also culpable.

The case first came to trial in late 2015, with a HCMC court sentencing Lam and Vinh to 16 years in prison and Nguyen and Thanh to nine and 12 years.

An appeals court revoked these sentences in October 2016 and ordered a further investigation, which resulted in Ha's arrest and their sentencing now.

 
 
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