|Black-dyed USD exhibits were seized by Tan Son Nhat International Airport Customs on September 15, 2022|
Foreign currency is illegally exported by air
According to the Anti-Smuggling Investigation Department and the General Department of Customs, smuggling and illegal transportation of goods by air and international post tend to decrease as international flights continue to be disrupted and stopped due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, after opening several tourist routes with other countries, smuggling and trade fraud tended to become complicated again. Smugglers focus on high-value, easy-to-hide goods such as wildlife products, cosmetics, modern medicines, dietary supplements, drugs, mobile phones and foreign currency.
Typically, on September 15, the baggage clearance team – Tan Son Nhat International Airport Customs Branch (HCMC Customs Department), through checking the luggage of import and export passengers, discovered and arrested 2 passengers on flight VJ803 departing from Tan Son Nhat to Bangkok – Thailand illegally exported 1 million USD dyed black. According to the Head of the Customs Sub-Department of Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Bui Le Hung, this is a very sophisticated method of transporting foreign currency by the target group. This trick has happened in many money laundering cases, but this is the first case the Customs has detected a substantial amount of foreign currency.
In addition to the above case, according to the Tan Son Nhat International Airport Customs Branch, from the beginning of 2022 until now, the Export Baggage Procedure Team – Tan Son Nhat International Airport Customs Branch has detected a total of 9 cases of illegal transportation of foreign currency through the air gate, with the amount of foreign currency seized was 10,000 USD, 36,500 SGD and the amount of foreign currency from other countries converted into VND equivalent to nearly 1.1 billion VND.
It is forecasted that the number of entry and exit passengers will increase significantly on occasion before, during and after the upcoming 2023 Lunar New Year. Therefore, the Tan Son Nhat Airport Border Gate Customs Branch has developed a specific plan to facilitate procedures for goods and passengers’ luggage and effectively control and combat smuggling. Accordingly, it will strengthen the work of collecting, analyzing and processing information, firmly grasping key routes, locations, objects and products; build plans to investigate, verify, fight, effectively prevent and dismantle smuggling, commercial fraud and illegal transportation of goods through international airports, especially drugs, weapons, explosives, rare wildlife, alcohol, cigarettes, cigars, telephones, gold, foreign currency, etc.
Foreign currency “creeps” across borders
According to Dong Thap Customs Department, in recent times, at the Dong Thap border, Customs forces have detected and prevented many cases of illegal transportation of foreign currency and Vietnamese money back and forth between Cambodia. For example, on November 15, Dinh Ba border gate Customs Branch coordinated with Border Guard forces to discover Mr Phan Ngoc Tien (born in 1978, address in Dinh Ba hamlet, Tan Ho Co commune, Tan Hong district, Dong Thap province), rode a motorcycle with control plate 66K1-105.20 that hid 200,000 USD in the trunk, did not declare customs procedures when exiting through the border gate according to regulations. As a result, the Customs transferred the case to the Tan Hong District Police, and this agency prosecuted a criminal case and the accused against Mr Phan Ngoc Tien for “illegally transporting currency across the border gate”.
According to Mr Dao Huu Can, Head of the Dinh Ba border gate Customs Branch, objects do not only illegally transport foreign currency but also take advantage of border crossing to illegally transport Vietnamese currency without declaring customs. Previously, in September 2022, Dinh Ba border gate Customs Branch issued a decision to prosecute a criminal case of “Illegal transportation of currency across the border” and transferred the case file to the Investigation Police department of Tan Hong district (Dong Thap) to continue investigating according to regulations. However, according to the case file, on August 13, 2022, at the entry gate of Dinh Ba international border gate, inter-sectoral control station, the officer on duty of Customs and Border Guard discovered Mr Trinh Linh Em, born in 1996, residing in Phu Tho commune, Tam Nong district, Dong Thap province, riving a motorcycle with a license plate 66N1-332.28 from Cambodia to Vietnam, hiding 330 million VND in the trunk, without declaring customs.
Money transportation across the border has also reappeared recently on the road to the border gate. On 11/11/2022, Moc Bai Border Gate Customs Branch (Tay Ninh Customs Department) coordinated with the Southern Anti-Smuggling Control Team (Team 3) under the General Department of Customs, Border Guard Station at Moc Bai international border gate and the police of Ben Cau district, Tay Ninh province, arrested Dinh Tuan Anh, born in 1994, living in Vinh City, Nghe An province who entered with his girlfriend from Cambodia to Vietnam through the Moc Bai border gate, carried nearly 500 million VND and 10,400 USD, but did not declare it to customs. As a result, the Moc Bai Border Gate Customs Branch decided to prosecute the case and transfer it to the investigating police agency for further handling according to regulations.
According to the forecast of the Southwest Border Customs Unit, the illegal transportation of foreign currency across the border will be complicated at the end of the year. Following the direction of leaders at all levels, the units are implementing a peaking plan to combat smuggling and trade fraud, which will focus on many solutions to prevent illegal currency movement across borders.
On November 22, 2022, the National Steering Committee against Smuggling, Commercial Fraud and Counterfeiting (National Steering Committee 389) issued a Plan to strengthen the fight against smuggling, trade fraud, and illegal transporting of goods through international airports. The plan was implemented from December 1, 2022, to the end of December 1, 2025.
The plan aims to strengthen inspection, supervision and coordination of forces, to ensure timely detection and handling of acts of smuggling, commercial fraud, and illegal transportation of goods through international airports, perfecting mechanisms and policies to facilitate the export and import of goods while ensuring effective prevention of acts of smuggling, commercial fraud, and illegal transportation of goods through international airports, etc.