Vietnam suspends officials implicated in Japanese firm's bribery allegations

By Anh Tu, Hoang Thang   May 26, 2020 | 09:31 pm GMT+7
Vietnam suspends officials implicated in Japanese firm's bribery allegations
Tenma Vietnam Co. Ltd in Que Vo District, Bac Ninh Province, in northern Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Ba Do.

Several tax and customs officials in Bac Ninh Province will be suspended for 15 days pending investigations into bribery allegations made in Japan.

The decision was made at the request of Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung to the General Department of Taxation and the General Customs Department Tuesday, following reports that a Japanese plastic company paid the officials $215,000 in bribes.

Members of the tax and customs teams that inspected imports by Tenma Vietnam, which has operated in the northern province since 2007, and senior officials responsible for setting up the two teams are subject to the suspension order.

Among the suspension list are head of Bac Ninh's Customs Department and deputy head of the province's Tax Department.

On Monday, the finance ministry began probing recent reports in some Japanese newspapers, including Asahi, that Tenma had bribed Vietnamese officials on two occasions - in 2017 and last year.

An Asahi report said that Tenma representatives on April 1 confessed to prosecutors in Tokyo that its subsidiary Tenma Vietnam in June 2017 had imported a batch of molds and Vietnamese officials demanded a value-added tax of JPY1.8 billion ($16.7 million).

To avoid this obligation, the CEO of Tenma Vietnam, which is based in the northern province of Bac Ninh, paid a senior customs official VND2 billion (JPY10 million or about $86,000) in cash.

The newspaper also reported that in August last year, Bac Ninh tax authorities had asked Tenma Vietnam to pay tax dues, including corporate income tax, of JPY89 million ($826,400).

It said Tenma Vietnam paid VND3 billion (JPY15 million or around $129,000) in cash to tax officials to get the dues lowered to JPY2.6 million ($24,300).

On May 1, Tenma announced on its website that the CEO implicated in the bribery would announce his resignation at a shareholders’ meeting in June.

The company is being investigated for bribing foreign officials and violating unfair competition laws in Japan.

To Lam, Vietnam's Minister of Public Security, said Tuesday that Vietnam was cooperating with Japan on the investigation.

"The information of Tenma bribing Vietnamese officials came from Japan, so we need international coordination to investigate this case," Lam said on the sidelines of a parliament session in Hanoi.

Representatives from Bac Ninh’s People Committee, the highest executive body in the province, said Tuesday that a preliminary review by local police has not showed any abnormal signs.

Tenma Vietnam continues to operate normally at the Que Vo Industrial Zone in Bac Ninh. Company representatives told local media that all of its senior officials are either away from the province or still in Japan.

 
 
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