More than 14,000 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were seized and six Malaysian men were arrested on Wednesday, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and Singapore Customs said in a press release on Friday (24 Feb).
On 22 February 2017, at about 6.25am, an ICA officer at the Tanjong Pagar Scanning Station directed a Singapore-registered truck for inspection. The officer had noticed anomalies in the scanned images of the 40-footer container that was declared to contain 16 pallets of gypsum boards.
The ICA officers then removed the top layers of gypsum board, and they found duty-unpaid cigarettes concealed within specially-hollowed areas of the boards.
Singapore Customs was alerted and its officers followed up with an operation and arrested six Malaysian men, aged between 19 and 28, in a warehouse in Tuas South Avenue 10.
A total of 14,492 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were seized.
The total duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded amounted to about $1.1 million and $83,340 respectively. Investigations are ongoing the release said.
Buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, possessing or dealing with duty-unpaid goods are serious offences under the Customs Act and the GST Act. Offenders can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded and/or jailed for up to six years. Vehicles used in the commission of such offences are also liable to be forfeited, the authority stated.
The ICA will continue to conduct security checks on passengers and vehicles at the checkpoints, the same methods of concealment used by contraband smugglers may be used by terrorists to smuggle arms and explosives to carry out attacks in Singapore, ICA said.