|Illustrative image (Source: VNA)
Speaking at an online conference to review customs work in 2019, general director of the department Nguyen Van Can said the war against commercial fraud had become more sophisticated and dynamic.
In December alone, more than 1,060 violations worth 177 billion VND (7.6 million USD) were handled. Legal proceedings have been started against as many as 23 violators.
In 2019, more than 16,660 cases of trade fraud, with a value of goods amounting to 2.6 trillion VND (111.9 million USD) were discovered. Legal proceedings have been started against 145 violators.
Can said origin fraud was among most common violations. Many cases in which imported goods, mainly garments and textile and electronic appliances, were labelled ‘Made in Vietnam’ were uncovered.
There was a legal gap in rules of origin of the goods. The unclear legal documents and late response of authorised agencies were among causes of the violations, he said.
Can cited the Asanzo incident as one example. Last June, Asanzo Vietnam Electronics JSC was accused of origin fraud and cheating customers as it imported goods from China but claimed them to be of Vietnamese origin when sold in the domestic market.
The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) later announced that it cleared the company following Vietnamese law.
As stipulated, a product can include the ‘Made in Vietnam’ label if it is assembled from components which are purchased in Vietnam or imported from other countries.
Can said it would be easier to handle the cases if there were clear and comprehensive regulations on origin fraud.
Can said the department had consulted with the Supreme People's Procuracy to deploy measures to deter and seize goods with unclear origin.
Can said in the first quarter of this year, ministries and branches would review regulations on origin fraud to avoid causing confusion for both authorities and businesses, such as in the case of Asanzo.
Drug and wildlife trafficking is also on the rise, the department reported.
Inter-provincial and border trafficking rings have been uncovered nationwide.
Early last year, the customs department in central Ha Tinh province, in cooperation with local police, found seven people smuggling 370 packages of narcotics from Ha Tinh to the northern provinces of Lang Son and Cao Bang.
Two months later, 13 people of Chinese and Vietnamese nationalities were caught transporting 300 kilogrammes of ecstasy from Laos to Vietnam and Vietnam to Taiwan via border gates.
In April, customs officials in An Giang province found six people hiding 31,850 tablets of ecstasy and 17 kilos of heroin in their luggage while travelling to Cambodia.
Several months later, four Taiwanese people were caught transporting 500 kilos of ketamine – the largest amount of ketamine ever seized in the country – to a warehouse in HCM City’s Binh Chanh district. The drugs were estimated to be worth nearly 500 billion VND (21.5 million USD).
Reports from customs officials in Da Nang city and Ha Tinh and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces revealed that ivory tusks and pangolin scales were commonly smuggled. Most were found in containers disguised as scrap or cargo.
Can said the department would tighten inspections on goods ahead of the Tet holiday, especially alcohol, food and imported fruits.
It would also increase control over goods transiting through Vietnam to other countries to fight against counterfeit products and origin fraud.