Trial of 74 defendants accused of smuggling nearly 200 million litres of petrol to start this month

October 04, 2022 - 04:49
Between March 2020 to February 2021, nearly 200 million litres of petroleum, worth nearly VNĐ2.9 trillion ($130 million) were smuggled into Việt Nam.
Police officers seal documents relating to the smuggling of 200 million litres of petroleum in the southern province of Đồng Nai. — Photo

HÀ NỘI — The trial of 74 defendants accused of smuggling nearly 200 million litres of petrol worth VNĐ2.9 trillion (US$130 million), is set to begin on October 25 and last 45-60 days, the People's Court of the southern province of Đồng Nai announced on Monday.

The defendants are accused of smuggling and accepting bribes.

Earlier this year, the Central Military Procuracy charged high-ranking officials from the Border and Coast Guards with involvement in the smuggling cases.

The People's Procuracy of Đồng Nai Province issued an indictment against Phan Thanh Hữu, director of Phan Lê Hoàng Anh Trading Co.; Nguyễn Hữu Tứ, a resident in Vĩnh Long Province; Đào Ngọc Viễn, director of the Ocean Hải Phòng Ltd.; and 70 accomplices.

In addition, Ngô Văn Thụy, former Captain of Team No 3, General Department of Customs' Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department, was prosecuted for taking bribes.

According to the indictments, in September 2019, Hữu and Viễn discussed contributing capital to smuggle fake petrol. Hữu and Viễn asked Phùng Danh Thoại, who was then head of the Petroleum Office's Logistics Department, to use his influence over the Coast Guard to smuggle about 200 million litres of petrol.

After that, Hữu, Viễn and Phạm Hùng Cường, who resided in Hải Phòng City, Thoại and another man named Trọng contributed capital of about VNĐ53 billion (US$2.21 million), to buy gasoline from Singapore to smuggle into Việt Nam.

Viễn introduced Hữu to a petroleum seller in Singapore to discuss petrol deals. They rented two vessels, each with a capacity of 8,000 tonnes, to carry petroleum from Singapore to Việt Nam and deliver it to Hữu's fleet named Nhật Minh.

The smuggled gasoline was pumped from Hữu's vessels to petroleum depots and then consumed in many provinces and cities in the southern region.

Because the smuggled petroleum was white, unlike the yellow petrol usually found in Việt Nam, Hữu and his accomplices bought pigments and solvents to disguise their crimes.

In addition, Hữu also used Nhật Minh vessels to transport smuggled petroleum to Cambodia. Each month, the smuggling ring undertook between three to six trips with about five million litres of petroleum smuggled at a time.

For each trip to Việt Nam, Hữu paid rental, brokerage fees, and bribes to some individuals in Government agencies. Hữu got 40 per cent of the profit, and Viễn, Cường, and Thoại took 60 per cent.

Between March 2020 to February 2021, they undertook 48 trips, totalling nearly 200 million litres of smuggled petroleum, worth nearly VNĐ2.9 trillion ($130 million). More than 196 million litres have been consumed. Hữu took more than VNĐ105 billion. — VNS