Vietnam's Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department has launched a criminal probe into the Euro Auto Company, the Ho Chi Minh City-based importer of BMW automobiles.
The decision followed an internal probe at Vietnam's customs agency and a consultation with the Supreme People’s Procuracy (Vietnam's highest prosecution agency), VnEconomy reported Thursday.
Last week, the General Department of Vietnam Customs suspended Duong Phu Dong, Director of the Post-Clearance Inspection Department, for 15 days pending a review of import activities at Euro Auto.
In late November, Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance ordered customs agencies to suspend clearance procedures for imported BMW cars in order to investigate alleged violations at Euro Auto.
BMWs imported under diplomatic privilege were exempt from the suspension.
Officials at the Ministry of Finance claim the importer falsified purchase contracts and receipts while importing the cars and failed to provide certificates of origin and other required documents.
Euro Auto has submitted a report to address the ministry's accusations.
In a recent letter sent to the central government, Ho Chi Minh City authorities, and a number of embassies in Vietnam, Euro Auto urged finance and customs officials not to criminalize economic relations.
Euro Auto said representatives from the BMW Group in Germany have emailed the Ministry of Finance to say they did not provide Euro Auto certificates of origin for imported cars because Vietnamese customs officials did not require those documents.
The German Group will meet with the finance and customs officials in the middle of January 2017 in Hanoi, Euro Auto added.
In September, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue directed the Ministry of Finance to look into media reports that a number of companies had allegedly imported luxury cars as gifts and donations to evade taxes.
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