12 men were arrested and over 11,900 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes seized in three separate operations conducted in industrial premises in Tuas in November 2018.
The Singapore Customs (SC) reveals in a press release on Wednesday (28 November) that its officers raided a yard in Tuas Avenue 14 and saw four men retrieving duty-unpaid cigarettes that were hidden in eight concrete slabs and loading them onto a lorry on 24 November 2018. The four men – an Indonesian, a Malaysian, and two Singaporeans – were arrested.
According to the authority, a total of 4,148 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes and a lorry were seized in this operation.
Court proceedings against the four men are ongoing.
In a separate operation on 7 November 2018, Singapore Customs officers uncovered duty-unpaid cigarettes hidden in six excavator arms in an industrial unit in Tuas South Street 1. Two Malaysian men, who had assisted in moving the excavator arms containing duty-unpaid cigarettes into the unit, were arrested. Three other Malaysian men were arrested in a follow-up operation.
The operation resulted in the seizure of a total of 5,431 cartons and 29 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes and a van. Court proceedings against four of the men are ongoing, while investigations are ongoing for the fifth man.
In another operation on 2 November 2018, three Singaporean men were arrested in an industrial unit in Tuas South Avenue 3. The three men were
retrieving the duty-unpaid cigarettes, which were hidden in concrete slabs, when Singapore Customs officers raided the unit.
A total of 2,400 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were seized in the operation. Court proceedings against the three men are ongoing.
The authority stated that the total of 11,979 cartons and 29 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes were seized in the three operations. The duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded amounted to about $1,074,390 and $78,520 respectively.
"We advise owners and managing agents of industrial premises to exercise due diligence to prevent their premises from being used by syndicates for duty-unpaid cigarette activities," said Assistant Director-General (Intelligence & Investigation) Yeo Sew Meng.
"They should strengthen access controls at their premises and also look out for red flags such as persons seeking to rent the premises on a short-term basis, paying cash, and not being able to provide a credible business purpose for the rental," he added.
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 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.