Customs staffs inspect imported goods in HCM City. — Photo baohaiquan
Nguyễn Quốc Hùng, deputy director of the Hồ Chí Minh City Customs Departement, speaks to the Hải Quan (Customs) newspaper about his department’s resolve to deter smuggling
Smuggling and trade fraud have increased rapidly at Sài Gòn Port. What can you say about this development?
Nguyễn Quốc Hùng
Developments in the first months of 2017 indicate that smuggling and trade fraud in Hồ Chí Minh City have become more and more complicated. Our customs officers have detected many false declaration papers designed to avoid or to pay less tax. Meanwhile, some people even sought to open customs declarations in other localities to get their goods through Hồ Chí Minh City ports more easily. With their diligent work, customs officers in the city have detected and rejected many cases of false documentation.
Another trick some companies have tried to fool the Hồ Chí Minh customs officers is seeking temporarily importation of transit goods to third countries, but later on, the goods are transported back to the domestic market.
Can you elaborate on the fight against smuggling and trade fraud?
In the fight against smuggling and trade fraud, we have paid special attention to some activities like companies or clients often changing their customs declaration documents or making unclear declarations on corporate profiles. In the first six months of 2017, we detected 710 cases of fraud in customs declarations and levied fines worth more than VNĐ18 billion (US$791,000) and filed 14 criminal law suits for smuggling – double the figure in 2016. Most illegally imported goods were second hand electronics, freezing equipment and wildlife products.
Many big smuggling cases have been brought to court. Why has the number of cases been increasing?
I don’t deny it. We – the Hồ Chí Minh City’s Customs Department and other agencies have detected and given them punishments, including taking them to court, but the profits from these activities are very lucrative. In addition, Hồ Chí Minh City is a big and wholesale market for southern provinces and the whole country. That’s one of the reasons why the city’s Customs Department has made efforts to detect and deter trade fraud and smuggling.
More recently, the HCM City’s Customs Department detected many false documents of ‘ghost’ enterprises. What can your department do to stop this?
This is a fact that we confront in our daily work. I’m sorry to say that our Customs Department has discovered that many newly established enterprises do not operate at the addresses stated in their business registration licences. And the names of many of the enterprises’ directors are false and they do not exist. We have reported these cases to the authorities and hopefully soon they’ll come up with measures to restore law and order.
What are the plans to deter fraud for the rest of 2017?
We have developed different scenarios to deter smuggling activities in border areas and trade fraud, particularly fake goods. We will also focus efforts in the fight against smuggling of temporarily imported-exported goods, including transit goods through border check points.
The HCM City’s Customs Department will also step up training for their staff, including political training.
As a rule, late in the year, particularly in the approach to the Lunar New Year festival, smuggling and trade fraud activities increase, so we’ll strictly follow instructions from the Government, the Ministry of Finance and the HCM City People’s Committee in carrying out our missions. — VNS