Boxes of branded bags worth thousands confiscated by Changi Airport Customs officers

SINGAPORE - More than 10 boxes of branded bags and shoes believed to be worth ten of thousands have been confiscated by authorities after a woman had allegedly brought them in without paying Goods and Services Tax, local media reported on Sunday.

The 29-year-old, who was not named, had arrived from Europe with her family at about 6am on Saturday morning, when Customs officers at Changi Airport approached them to inspect their luggage. Officers then accompanied the family back to their home in Bukit Timah, Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao reported.

There, officers displayed and photographed the items, which included Miu Miu, Chanel and Louis Vuitton bags.

Her father, a mechanic, called Zaobao at noon on Saturday and told the Chinese paper that more than 10 Customs officers had been searching their home since 7am.

He claimed that they were harsh towards his daughter, and he had to call the police.

"They were fierce and impatient. My daughter used to suffer from depression and the situation has made her unwell. She needs a doctor now," he told Zaobao.

Custom officers eventually left the house at 2pm, taking with them 14 boxes that also contained a laptop computer, documents and other Hermes bags which they had found in the house.

It is understood that the woman had been selling branded bags on Instagram, but her account became inactive at about 1.30pm on Saturday.

She told Zaobao that the bags were part of her personal collection, and she sells those that she got tired of.

It was her hobby, and she would on occasion help her friends source for bags, she said.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, a Singapore Customs spokesman said in an e-mail statement on Dec 22: "Investigations are ongoing. All relevant import transactions, whether hand-carried or imported by other means, will be looked into.”

A 7 per cent goods and services tax (GST) is levied on all goods imported into Singapore, according to the Changi Airport website.

Tax relief is granted for up to $600 of goods, excluding liquor and tobacco, if travellers have been out of the country for more than 48 hours. If less than 48 hours, the tax relief granted is $150. The goods have to be for personal consumption.

Failure to declare the value of your purchases is an offence under the Customs Act and the GST Act. Offenders may be prosecuted in court, fined up to $10,000 and jailed for up to three years.

chuimin@sph.com.sg

This article was first published on Dec 21, 2014.