Ex-Jewellery Shop Employee Sentenced to Two Years’ Jail for Corruption and Abetting in GST Tourist Refund Fraud (CPIB-IRAS joint press release)
2 Mar 2015: Lim Pheck Aun (“Lim”), a former jewellery shop employee, was sentenced to 2 years’ jail and ordered to pay a total penalty of $27,893.59 for corruption and abetting two Indian nationals to fraudulently claim Goods and Services Tax (GST) tourist refund.
Facts of the Offences
Lim was a salesman at Soon Huat Goldsmith Pte Ltd (“SHGPL”), a retailer participating in the electronic tourist refund scheme (“eTRS”)i, during the offence period. His duties as a salesman included issuing eTRS tickets to tourists to claim GST refunds.
On various occasions between May 2013 and Jan 2014, Lim assisted two Indian nationals, Sundar Panneer Selvam (“Sundar”) and Baskaran Uthirapathy (“Baskaran”), to claim for GST refunds that they were not entitled. Lim had made false entries into the eTRS system to generate eTRS tickets with their particulars with the knowledge that Sundar and Baskaran were not the buyers of the jewellery described in the SHGPL receipts presented to him. In return, Lim accepted DOM Liquors and cash as bribes.
The GST fraud was uncovered when the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) detected several suspicious GST refund claims in the eTRS system in late 2013. Subsequent joint investigations by IRAS, Singapore Customs and Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) revealed that a group of accomplices had made fraudulent GST refund claims.
Earlier, the other accomplices have upon conviction been jailed between three and five years and ordered to pay penalties for their offences.
Lim faced a total of 23 GST evasion charges that amounted to $23,116.50 and 9 corruption charges that amounted to $724.
He pleaded guilty to 6 GST evasion charges and 3 corruption charges that were proceeded against him. The 6 GST evasion charges involved a total amount of $9,056.53 and the 3 corruption charges involved a total amount of $292.90.
The court sentenced Lim to 2 years’ jail, a penalty of $724 for his corruption offences and $27,169.59 for his GST offences which is three times the amount of GST defrauded.
Zero Tolerance towards Tax Fraud, Corruption and other Criminal Activities
Singapore has always adopted a zero tolerance approach towards tax fraud, corruption and other criminal activities. The authorities take a serious view of any corrupt and criminal practices, and will not hesitate to take swift action against any individuals and parties involved.
Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore
Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau
iAbout the Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS)
Tourists can claim GST refund on goods they have purchased and brought out of Singapore. A person who did not purchase the goods and yet sought or obtained a GST refund under the tourist refund scheme would have committed an offence under the GST Act.
Under eTRS, a tourist receives a receipt of goods purchased and an eTRS ticket when he buys goods from a GST-registered retailer participating in eTRS. The tourist then uses the eTRS ticket or the credit card with which he purchased the goods to make a GST refund claim via the eTRS selfhelp kiosk at the Changi airport.
As a control measure, physical inspection of the goods may be carried out at the GST refund counter by Singapore Customs officers before a GST refund claim is approved.