Branded handbag retailer fined $190,000 over GST evasion of thousands of luxury goods

Branded bags sold at a public sales event organised by LovethatBag LLP.
Branded bags sold at a public sales event organised by LovethatBag LLP. PHOTO: LOVETHATBAG/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - A retailer of branded handbags and wallets has been fined $190,000 for fraudulent evasion of Goods and Services Tax (GST), Singapore Customs said on Thursday (April 28).

The total amount of GST  Yu Chung Tan evaded on all the goods exceeded $54,460.

Yu, a partner at LovethatBag LLP, which sells luxury bags online and at public sales events, pleaded guilty to 18 charges and was sentenced by the State Courts on Wednesday. Another 37 charges were taken into consideration in the sentencing.

If he fails to pay the fine, he faces a jail term of 11 months and 240 days. 

The 47-year-old had imported 2,338 branded handbags by parcel post on 41 occasions between October 2011 and October 2013.

In an attempt to avoid paying GST, he instructed his suppliers to indicate the value of the bags imported as below $400 in the import documents submitted to Singapore Customs.

Goods imported by parcel post, except dutiable goods, are not subject to GST when their value is below $400.

 

Investigations also revealed that Yu had travelled overseas on 14 occasions from April 2012 to February 2014, purchasing 519 items that included branded bags, wallets, shirts, umbrellas and shoes.

He meant to sell them in Singapore, and despite knowing that goods imported for sale are subject to GST, failed to declare them for GST payment upon arrival at Changi Airport.

Singapore Customs said Yu had intended to save on the cost of the goods so as to price them more competitively and boost sales.

Ms Fauziah Abdul Sani, Singapore Customs' head of Trade Investigation Branch, said it was keeping a close watch on such illegal practices by retailers.

"Those who attempt to evade duty and taxes will be dealt with severely," she added.

Under the Customs Act, any person found guilty of fraudulent evasion of GST will be liable to a fine up to 20 times the amount of tax evaded and/or be jailed for up to two years.

Members of the public with information on smuggling activities or evasion of Customs duty or GST can contact Singapore Customs on 1800-233-0000, e-mail customs_intelligence@customs.gov.sg, or use the Customs@SG mobile app to report the illegal activities.