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Pterocarpus erinaceus "disguised" as Chinese goods

19:20 | 14/10/2021

VCN - After months of investigation, in September 2021, the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department (General Department of Customs) handled a series of large-scale transnational smuggling cases with sophisticated and complex circumstances.

Smuggled precious wood shipment seized by Customs at La Lay Border Gate Smuggled precious wood shipment seized by Customs at La Lay Border Gate
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Fifty containers of imported wood inspected Fifty containers of imported wood inspected
50 containers of timber are inspected at a port. Photo: T.H
50 containers of timber are inspected at a port. Photo: T.H


Customs News will publish a series of articles titled "Customs investigates and prosecutes many large-scale smuggling cases", to partly reflect the difficulties in the fight against smuggling and proactiveness and determination of the Customs force against such crimes.

On September 5, 2021, the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department issued decision 04/QD-DTCBL to prosecute the crime of smuggling in Ho Chi Minh City on violations of export activities of the Inbe Asia Limited (address: 51 Nguyen Xi, Ward 26, Binh Thanh District, HCMC).

How are hundreds of cubic meters of timber illegally imported?

Through investigation, the Southern Anti-Smuggling Enforcement Team (Team 3, the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department) verified a shipment of 50 containers of timber in two declarations, imported by the Inbe Asia Co., Ltd., on June 3, 2019 at Saigon port area 1 Customs Branch (HCMC Customs Department).

The goods are declared as Afzeiia xylocarpa, boxed–sawn, unprocessed, 3.6m-5.8m in length and 19cm-36cm in width, 16cm-28cm in height, 100% new and originated from China and not on the list of management under CITES.

Customs stopped clearance and conducted a physical inspection. The company’s representative did not come to carry out customs clearance procedures, showing signs of evasion. After that, Team 3 issued a decision to search vehicles and goods in coordination with other competent forces.

According to the investigation and verification by the Research Institute of Forest Industry under the Vietnamese Academy of Forest Sciences, the above timber is Pterocarpus erinaceus measuring 850.681 m3 subject to import under the CITES management agency of the exporting and importing countries.

According to the valuation certificate of BTCVALUE Valuation Joint Stock Company, the infringing shipment is valued at more than VND15.6 billion.

Accordingly, the teams expanded the investigation to 50 containers of imported timber of Inbe Asia Co., Ltd.

The amount of tax evasion is nearly VND1 billion

On May 5, 2021, the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department decided to settle the case according to criminal proceedings and seize the evidence.

Based on the results of the investigation, verification and the results of the meeting to evaluate evidence between the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department and Department 3 (Supreme People's Procuracy), 50 containers of timber imported by Inbe Asia Co., Ltd. Chau is Pterocarpus erinaceus weighing 850.681 m3 were imported into Vietnam without a license. The infringing goods are valued at VND15.6 billion with missing tax of more than VND940 million.

The suspects used the legal entity of Inbe Asia Co., Ltd. to intentionally declare the wrong name of goods to import Pterocarpus erinaceus, which is a type of wood that must have a license from the CITES management agency and the value of infringing goods is over VND100 million (actually the shipment is valued at VND15.6 billion). The act constitutes the crime of smuggling, specified in Article 188 of the Penal Code 2015 revised in 2017.

At the same time, on September 5, 2021, the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department issued a decision to prosecute criminal case 04/QD-DTCBL on the crime of smuggling as mentioned above and issued Official Letter 863/ĐTCBL-D7 requesting the Supreme People's Procuracy to issue a decision to transfer the criminal case on smuggling to the Investigation Police Agency (Ho Chi Minh City Police).

On September 8, 2021, the Anti-Smuggling Investigation Department received Decision 39/QD-VKSTC-V3 dated September 7, 2021 of the Supreme People's Procuracy on transferring the criminal case to the Investigation Police Agency (PC03, Ho Chi Minh City Police) to expand the investigation.

Based on the documents in the case, the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department has expanded the investigation of involved persons.

Mr. Nguyen Trung Hieu (who was introduced by Inbe Asia Co., Ltd to the Saigon port area 1 Customs Branch to check the goods before opening the declaration). According to investigation, Mr. Nguyen Trung Hieu, living in Dak Nong, is the representative of Inbe Asia Co., Ltd., on May 21, 2019 watched the goods before opening the import declaration. According to Dak Nong Police, the identity card bearing the name Nguyen Trung Hieu is real. But verifying his permanent residence, Nguyen Trung Hieu does not currently live at the locality and the competent forces did not know is where he is living and working.

For Do Thai Toan, Director, legal representative of Inbe Asia Co., Ltd (at the time of violation), Dong Nai Police determined that the identity card bearing the name Do Thai Toan is real. However, verifying his permanent address, Do Thai Toan does not currently living at the registered address and the authorities do not know what Mr. Toan is doing or where he is living.

By Thai Binh/ Huyen Trang