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Metro Vietnam found owing over $23.6mn in tax in transfer pricing inspection

The Vietnamese unit of Germany’s Metro Cash & Carry will have to pay almost US$24 million in tax arrears after its wrongdoings have been unearthed in a transfer pricing inspection that concluded Monday.

The Vietnamese unit of Germany’s Metro Cash & Carry will have to pay almost US$24 million in tax arrears after its wrongdoings have been unearthed in a transfer pricing inspection that concluded Monday.
The Vietnamese unit of Germany’s Metro Cash & Carry will have to pay almost US$24 million in tax arrears after its wrongdoings have been unearthed in a transfer pricing inspection that concluded Monday.

Metro Cash & Carry Vietnam Co. Ltd. began coming under scrutiny on suspicions of transfer pricing in 2012.

Many Vietnamese tax agencies had tried to clarify the transfer pricing dispute of the company but failed to find any wrongdoings until the General Department of Taxation launched its own inspection.

The general department finished its two months of inspecting on Monday and ruled that the wholesaler chain pay VND507 billion ($23.63 million) in tax arrears, a deputy minister of finance confirmed to VnExpress newspaper the same day.

The tax arrears included the company’s unpaid corporate tax and the reduction of value-added tax the firm was allowed to enjoy, among many other sums.

Metro began its Vietnam operation in 2002 with an initial investment of $78 million. Even its revenue has since increased by 24 times, the company has repeatedly reported losses, saying revenue failed to cover costs, according to VnExpress.

Metro Vietnam has never paid a single penny of corporate tax since its operation and only posted a profit of VND116 billion ($5.41 million) in 2010, the Hanoi-based newswire said.

In 2007, the company’s revenue topped VND6.6 trillion, or $317.3 million, but the loss was VND157 billion ($7.32 million), according to data obtained by VnExpress  in 2012.

A year later, its turnover rose to VND8.17 trillion ($380.74), yet its loss too increased to VND190 billion ($8.85 million).

The wholesaler chain now operates 19 stores across Vietnam, with three each in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, according to its website.

Headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany, Metro Cash & Carry is the largest sales division of the German trade and retail giant Metro AG. The company has more than 750 supermarkets in 28 countries, and boasts more than 21 million customers worldwide.

Metro AG announced in August 2014 it would sell the Vietnamese unit to Thailand’s Berli Jucker (BJC) under a 655 million euro deal.

BJC shareholders rejected the plan in a meeting on April 17, prompting TCC Holding, its majority investor, to step in to acquire the Vietnamese cash-and-carry retailer, according Reuters.

Unlisted TCC Holding, which has a 73.7 percent stake in BJC, planned to purchase Metro Vietnam for 655 million euros to expand into the fast-growing consumer goods sector in Southeast Asia, Reuters reported.

TCC Holding is part of TCC Group which is controlled by Thai beer tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi.