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Customs men suspended for fashion-import fraud

Update: December, 10/2012 - 10:07

HCM CITY (VNS)— Three officers of the Sai Gon Port Customs Division have been suspended following clearance given to a container of fashion clothing and accessories imported from China that were found to carry made-in-Italy labels.

The suspension of customs officers Vo Van Khanh, Nguyen Van Sang and Nguyen Buu Quy pending clarification of their responsibility in clearing the shipment was announced by Tran Ma Thong, deputy chief of the HCM City Customs Department, last Friday.

The fashion clothing and accessories were imported by HCM City-based Nam De Co Ltd, Thong said, adding police were searching for the workers and owners of the company.

The search was launched after HCM City Police seized four trucks stuffed with fashion garments, bags , belts and other items on November 11.

In the customs declaration form by Nam De, despite carrying the made-in-Italy tag, the items were inexpensive, with a skirt priced at US$5.5, a pair of shoes at $3.8, and a woman's coat at $3.7.

The goods on the trucks and those displayed at Gucci and Milano shops at 88 Dong Khoi Street in HCM City's District 1 have since been checked by relevant agencies.

The importer paid a total of VND27 million (nearly $1,300) in taxes for the container, said Bui Thai Quang, deputy head of the Risk Management Division under the General Customs Department.

But relevant agencies have not confirmed the origins of the imported items. They could be "authentic" goods actually made by Italian manufacturers and declared by importers as inexpensive goods to evade tax, Quang said.

They could also be imitation goods made by Chinese manufacturers and imported to Viet Nam where they can be sold at luxury shops in downtown areas at very high prices, up to thousands of US dollars per unit, he added.

Of late, many coats and bags worn and carried by Vietnamese visitors, including business people and actresses, have been seized and destroyed by French and Italian customs officers as they were found to be imitation goods, Quang said. —VNS

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