A new positive development has been seen in the suspected scam involving 100 containers of Vietnamese cashew nuts exported to Italy, with eight containers already re-exported to the Netherlands by March 22, according to the Vietnam Trade Office in Italy.
Those eight are among the containers whose original documents are still kept by the exporters.
To continue supporting Vietnamese exporters who lost original documents of their goods in the case, representatives of the trade office made a business trip to the northern port city of La Spezia on March 22, to ask the port authorities, financial police and shipping lines to help reduce the loss of the Vietnamese exporters to the lowest.
Vietnamese Trade Counselor in Italy Nguyen Duc Thanh said that La Spezia port authorities and Italian police had promised to detain 14-16 containers without original documents at the port.
Twenty-one others are expected to arrive in La Spezia and Genova ports in the coming time, including six to La Spezia on March 26 and two also to this port on March 28-29.
In the coming time, the Trade Office and the Embassy of Vietnam in Italy will continue to work with shipping lines on issues related to the case. According to Thanh, if it becomes a criminal case, the handling may be faster, because there is information that the buyer has hired lawyers and has contacted the lawyers of the sellers (Vietnamese enterprises), shipping lines, and the court to claim delivery when they have the original documents.
Currently, there is at least one set of original documents that have been identified by COSCO (the freight forwarder) as real. This is the first evidence that suspected scammers in Italy have somehow obtained the original documents illegally without paying Vietnamese businesses.
Thanh also recommended that Vietnamese businesses and the Vietnam Cashew Association (Vinacas) should work actively with relevant agencies in Vietnam to make urgent decisions to enable Vietnamese businesses to early export the goods.
According to Vinacas, through a Vietnamese broker, several cashew nut exporters have signed contracts to export 100 containers of the product to Italy, to be transported by international shipping lines Cosco, YANGMING, HMM, and ONE to the ports of Genoa and La Spezia.
The Vietnamese sellers have received no payment to date, though some containers have arrived in Italy while others are on the way.
The sellers reported that there are changes made to the SWIFT code in the documents of collection sent from Vietnamese banks to those allegedly representing the importer in Turkey. The Turkish banks declared the buyer is not their client and said they had sent back the documents. It is noteworthy that those banks neither specified how they had sent back the documents nor provided Vietnamese banks with bills of lading.
Meanwhile, after some documents of collection were sent to the buyer’s bank in Italy, the Italian bank replied that it had received only copies of the bills of lading, not the original versions, causing rising concerns among the exporters as the whereabouts of the original documents remain unknown. Anyone with the original documents can present them to the transporters for the release of the goods.