"If the reports are true, these officials must be punished to create a transparent and fair business environment and to prevent tax losses," Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in a release on the government’s website.
Eleven customs and tax officials in the northern province of Bac Ninh, where plastic appliances maker Tenma Vietnam is located, have been suspended for 15 days starting Wednesday pending investigations into the allegations that the company had bribed Vietnamese officials on two occasions, in 2017 and last year.
Minister of Public Security To Lam said Tuesday that Vietnam was working with Japan to verify the reports.
Japanese newspaper Asahi reported May 12 that Tenma representatives have confessed to prosecutors in Tokyo that company subsidiary Tenma Vietnam had imported in June 2017 a batch of molds on which Vietnamese officials demanded a value-added tax of JPY1.8 billion ($16.7 million).
To avoid this obligation, Tenma Vietnam paid a senior customs official VND2 billion (JPY10 million or about $86,000) in cash.
The newspaper also reported that in August last year, Bac Ninh tax authorities had asked Tenma Vietnam to pay tax dues, including corporate income tax, of JPY89 million ($826,400).
It said Tenma Vietnam paid VND3 billion (JPY15 million or around $129,000) in cash to tax officials to get the dues lowered to JPY2.6 million ($24,300).
Representatives from Bac Ninh’s People Committee, the highest executive body in the province, said Tuesday that a preliminary review by local police has not showed any abnormal signs.
Bac Ninh customs and tax officials have denied the allegations, saying that Tenma, as a firm involved in processing for export, is eligible for zero import and value-added tax duties under Vietnamese law, and therefore the allegations are baseless.
Tenma Vietnam continues to operate normally at the Que Vo Industrial Park in Bac Ninh. Company representatives told local media that all of its senior officials are either away from the province or still in Japan.
The company, established in 2007, produces plastic parts for household items and vehicles.