Japanese Tenma investigated for bribery and tax evasion in Vietnam

May 27, 2020 | 11:52
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Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance has investigated Japanese plastic-maker Tenma for allegedly paying JYP25 million ($215,000) in bribes to some Vietnamese tax inspectors to avoid tax duties in 2017 and 2019.

Japanese newswire Asahi reported that a Tenma representative revealed that Vietnamese tax officials demanded value-added tax of around JPY1.8 billion ($16.7 million) for a batch of imported moulds. Leaders at Tenma Vietnam then proposed the head office in Japan to bribe the local customs authorities to avoid these expenses.

Receiving approval from the president of the parent company in Japan, Tenma Vietnam reportedly paid VND2 billion ($88,960) in cash to the local Customs Department's investigating leader.

Asahi also reported that Bac Ninh tax authorities, where Tenma Vietnam is located, had previously requested the firm to fulfil its tax obligations, including JPY89 million ($826,400) of corporate income tax.

However, the firm gave VND3 billion ($129,000) in cash to local tax authorities in a bid to reduce its tax duty to JPY2.6 million ($24,300) in August 2019.

japanese tenma investigated for bribery and tax evasion in vietnam
Tenma is being investigated for an alleged $215,000 tax bribery in Vietnam

According to Asahi, the bribe had been approved by the Tenma headquarters in Japan, particularly by chairman Kento Fujino.

However, Ngo Xuan Tong, director of Bac Ninh Tax Department, said that the tax evasion was just a report from Japanese media and has not been confirmed by the Vietnamese side. Tenma Vietnam’s chief accountant outright refused the allegations, according to Tuoi Tre.

Tong also noted that Tenma had to pay around VND500 million ($21,740) Bac Ninh Tax Department in penalty for late income tax payment, not for bribery to avoid import tax, as alleged.

Earlier this month, at the shareholders' meeting in June, Tenma Corporation’s CEO announced resigning amidst the tax scandal. Tenma has not yet disclosed who would take over as the next CEO.

At the moment, Tenma is being closely investigated for bribing foreign officials and violating the competition law in Japan.

Vietnam’s Minister of Public Security, To Lam, confirmed that Vietnam has been co-operating with the Japanese side to thoroughly clarify the allegation.

"The information of Tenma bribing Vietnamese officials came from Japan, so we need international co-ordination to investigate this case," Lam said on the sidelines of a parliament session in Hanoi.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance said several tax and customs officials in Bac Ninh would be suspended for 15 days to further investigate the scandal. The ministry also formed an investigation team to verify the reports.

Tenma Vietnam was established at Que Vo Industrial Park in Bac Ninh province in 2007. The firm produces plastic parts for vehicles and household items.

By Minh Luu

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