Singapore Customs (SC) issued a press release which announced the arresting of a 44-year-old male Singaporean taxi driver and a 46-year-old female Chinese national in a condominium car park for dealing with duty unpaid cigarettes.
On 16 September morning, SC's officers mounted an operation in Still Road South. About six hours later, the officers kept a close watch as a taxi was driven into the car park of a condominium.
Later, they saw a woman loading two big blue plastic bags into the car boot of the taxi. The officers then moved in to check and they found 70 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes in the plastic bags. The woman and the taxi driver were then arrested.
The officers carried out a follow-up search of a unit in the condominium which uncovered a total of 612 cartons and 156 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes inside several brown boxes, canvas bags, plastic bags and trash bags in the condominium unit.
Another five cartons and five packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes were also found during the searching of the taxi driver's HBD flat in Kallang Bahru. The duty-unpaid cigarettes and the taxi were seized.
The total duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) involved in this case exceeded $58,840 and $5,750 respectively.
Investigations revealed that the woman had paid the taxi driver a one-time payment of $1,000 to rent the condominium unit in his name. She also hired him to assist in the delivery of the duty-unpaid cigarettes.
SC said that the woman was previously charged in the State Courts in April 2015 for offences also involving duty-unpaid cigarettes, but she absconded while on bail. Following her re-arrest, court proceedings for the woman and the taxi driver are now ongoing.
Mr Yeo Sew Meng, Assistant Director-General (Intelligence and Investigation), Singapore Customs said, “Singapore Customs is keeping a close watch on such illegal activities happening in residential areas.”
“We also urge members of the public, in particular landlords and security personnel, to report to Singapore Customs any suspected duty-unpaid cigarette activities which they observed, and help us stop such criminal activities from taking place in their neighborhood,” he added.
SC stated that buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, having in possession or dealing with duty-unpaid goods are serious offences under the Customs Act and the GST Act. Offenders will be severely dealt with.
They can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded, and/or jailed for up to six years. The minimum court fine for first-time and repeat offenders of tobacco-related offences is $2,000 and $4,000 respectively. Repeat offenders who are caught with more than two kilogrammes of tobacco products will also face mandatory jail sentences. Vehicles used in the commission of such offences are also liable to be forfeited.
Members of the public with information on smuggling activities or evasion of Customs duty or GST can call the Singapore Customs hotline on 1800-2330000, email [email protected] or use [email protected] mobile app (which can be downloaded from the Apple Store or Google Play) to report these illegal activities.