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May 26, 2020 / 12:49

Vietnam finance ministry to investigate bribery allegation of Japanese firm

The allegation is a serious matter directly affecting Vietnam’s business environment at a time government agencies are determined to fight corruption, said Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung.

Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung has requested his ministry to set up an inspection team to investigate an alleged bribery to Vietnamese public officials by Tenma Vietnam, a local unit of a Tokyo-based company Tenma.

An article published on Japanese media outlet Asahi about the alleged bribery. 

The inspection team is expected to work with Taxation and Customs Departments of  Bac Ninh province where Tenma Vietnam is headquartered.

Any offense found during the inspection would result in strict punishment in accordance to the laws, stated the Ministry of Finance (MoF) in a statement.

On Monday, the MoF requested the heads of the General Department of Taxation and the General Department of Vietnam Customs to report on the case before May 26.

On the sidelines of the National Assembly meeting on May 25, Minister Dung said the agency would disclose the result of the inspection to the public.

Dung added the issue is a serious matter directly affecting Vietnam’s business environment at a time government agencies are determined to step up the fight against corruption.

Previously, several Japanese media outlets, including Asahi, Kyodo, Nikkei, have reported that a plastic product maker Tenma admitted to the Tokyo District Prosecutor of bribing Vietnamese tax authorities with 25 million yen (US$232,000).

The action is considered a violation of Japan’s Unfair Competition Prevention Act, as it was aimed to ensure local authorities would remit Tenma Vietnam’s value-added tax (VAT) arrears worth VND400 billion (US$17.17 million) from imported raw materials.

According to Dan Tri, the first payment was made in June 2017, when Tenma Vietnam, after having consulted the parent company, bribed Vietnamese officials with VND2 billion (US$85,861), which resulted in the remission of the entire VND400 billion (US$17.17 million) of tax arrears.

In August 2019, local tax authorities requested the company to pay an additional VND17.8 billion (US$764,128) in taxes, but later offered an under-the-table payment of VND3 billion (US$128,785) in cash in exchange for a reduction of tax payment from VND17.8 billion (US$764,128) to VND570 million (US$24,469).

Kento Fujino, president of the parent company, is set to take full responsibility of the issue and would resign at the company’s shareholder meeting in June.