|Fake stamps and other items seized by police. Photo courtesy of Phú Thọ Provincial Police Department
PHÚ THỌ — Phú Thọ Provincial Police have busted a major inter-provincial invoice trading ring accused of more than VNĐ2.5 trillion (US$100.5 million) worth of tax fraud, police announced on Wednesday.
Five defendants are facing prosecution, including alleged masterminds Nguyễn Minh Tú (born 1992) and Võ Tấn Lộc (born 1997). Both live in Tam Phú Ward of Thủ Đức City, HCM City.
Through Zalo, Tú and Lộc acquired more than 228 'front' companies to set-up their invoice trading scheme; most were said to be based in Hà Nội and HCM City.
They then formed a network of more than 400 middlemen to seek out organisations nationwide looking to buy VAT invoices.
According to the investigation, the total value stated on the illegal invoices is more than VNĐ25 trillion ($1 billion), resulting in VNĐ2.5 trillion ($100.5 million) of tax invasion.
The ring took in more than VNĐ1.2 trillion ($48 million) in profit, of which Tú and Lộc gained more than VNĐ252 billion ($10 million) each. The rest was divided among the middlemen in the network.
To legitimise the bank transactions for the invoices sold, the two ringleaders set up multiple finance companies, using fake papers for the companies’ legal representatives and ‘burner’ SIM cards to register for internet banking services. The money was then circulated through the network’s middlemen.
To create fake dossiers for invoiced items requiring proof of origin, such as soil, wood, petrol and food, Tú bought 32 counterfeit local authority stamps, including those of provincial People’s Committees, departments, registration and inspection agencies, as well as notary offices.
The Investigation Police Agency of Phú Thọ Police Department confiscated 260 fake stamps of businesses and authorities and froze two bank accounts with more than VNĐ27 billion ($1.08 million).
The investigation is ongoing. — VNS