Twelve defendants sentenced in biggest fuel smuggling case in Vietnam

The People’s Court of the south central province of Binh Thuan on December 21 handed out prison sentences to 12 defendants, including two customs officials, involved in a multi-trillion VND fuel smuggling case, the biggest unveiled so far in Vietnam.

Six of the defendants previously worked for Duong Dong Hoa Phu Co Ltd in Hoa Phu commune, Tuy Phong district, which imported large volumes of fuel without declaring the correct amount to customs.

Nguyen Duc Manh, chairman and director-general of the company, and Nguyen Thanh Son, its former deputy director-general, received the longest sentences of 10 years and 8 years respectively on smuggling and bribery charges.

Vu Van Bang, Nguyen Dang Duy and Nguyen Duc Quang from the company’s business department each received five, four and a half, and four years in prison for smuggling. Nguyen Tuan Anh, an employee, was given two years on probation for giving bribes.

Two customs officials from Binh Thuan, Dinh Huu Thuy and Le Van Vinh, got four and three years behind bars for taking bribes from the company.

According to the indictment, on January 19, 2016, an inspection group examined the BTS Christina – a ship owned by the Singapore-based company BTS Tankers and captained by a Filipino citizen while it was offloading gasoline to a fuel tanker operated by Duong Dong Hoa Phu Co Ltd.

Inspectors determined that the ship was carrying 9,370 tonnes of RON 92 gasoline, but the company had declared just 1,870 tonnes at customs.

The investigative unit of the Ministry of Public Security started criminal proceedings into the case, and found that Duong Dong Hoa Phu had been smuggling gasoline from foreign companies into Vietnam from October 2015 to January 2016.

The company was found to have imported over 91 million litres of A92 gasoline and 77.57 million litres of diesel oil during the period, but only declared a small portion of these volumes (17.4 million and 14.84 million litres, respectively). The value of the undeclared fuel reached 2 trillion VND (85.8 million USD).

The Filipino captain in the case, Romel Pagenta Aleria, who signed receipts confirming the incorrect amount of fuel onboard, was fined 500 million VND (21,460 USD) and deported for cross-border smuggling.

Two defendants from a local company, including its director-general, Dam Van Duong, were sentenced to jail for four years and three-and-a-half years for issuing false documents regarding the volume of fuel.

Le Hai Duong, an employee of Dong Hung International Co Ltd, a local company that was BTS Tankers’ agency in Vietnam, got two years for smuggling for preparing the necessary documents to allow the BTS Christina to enter Vietnam and offload.

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