Cebu trader wins bidding of smuggled Vietnam rice



LEGAZPI CITY—A trading firm from Cebu City bought over the weekend 94,000 bags of seized imported rice from Vietnam for over P154.5 million at an auction conducted on Friday by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) here, an agency official said.

Dragon Grains Trading, which is owned by Jaime Ang, offered the highest bid over three other bidders, said Cris Paller, auction committee chair.

The other bidders were Pacific Rim Harvest Inc., represented by Tyron Fung of Pasig City; Ride’s Enterprise, owned by Felipe Donayre of Mandaue City; and D Platinum Trader Enterprise, owned by Ding Ding Noreen, also of Mandaue.

The bags of rice had been impounded by the BOC since September last year after these were confiscated from the Vietnamese cargo ship, Ming Tuan 68, while being unloaded at the Legazpi port. The consignees and the National Food Authority (NFA), which imported the rice on behalf of several farmers’ cooperatives, failed to present import documents.

The winning bid was a little above the floor price of P150 million and only P245 higher over the next bid, Paller said in a phone interview. The amount of sealed bids ranged from P124 million to P154 million, he added.

Lower than floor price

An auction proceeding scheduled earlier was suspended by Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon following complaints that the P135-million floor price set by the BOC was too low and placed the government at the losing end.

The P154-million floor price was based on the NFA’s rice valuation, Paller said.

A failure of bidding was declared on Thursday when the six qualified bidders did not set a price higher than the floor price. Paller said only four joined the bidding the next day and offered much higher prices.

All qualified bidders were required to post 20 percent of the floor bid, or P30 million, as security bond while the winning bidder was asked to pay 50 percent in advance, or P75 million of the floor price, and the remaining 50 percent upon receipt of the merchandise, Paller said.

He said the payment would be held in escrow pending the resolution of a case filed by the BOC against the consignees of the smuggled imported rice.

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