Ex-property agent jailed, fined for forging stamp certificate

A former property agent was jailed for five weeks and fined $2,145 last Friday for forging the stamp certificate in a property rental transaction and for issuing a counterfeit goods and services tax (GST) invoice.

Cheong Sai Chong, 38, a former agent with the Dennis Wee Group, pleaded guilty to the two offences. One other charge was taken into consideration.

Cheong left the firm after his real estate licence expired in July 2012, but still acted on behalf of the landlords and tenants for the rental of two properties. His offences came to light following a review of stamp duty compliance rates by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) in September 2013. It found tenancy agreements for certain properties had not been stamped.

An affected tenant of a commercial property in Ang Mo Kio provided Iras with a stamp certificate as proof of stamp duty payment, but it was later found to be counterfeit. Investigations showed that Cheong had collected $673 for the stamp duty, but did not stamp the tenancy agreements. In fact, Cheong admitted that he had edited the scan of a genuine stamp certificate from a previous property transaction and handed the counterfeit certificate to the tenant.

Stamp duty is paid on documents or agreements relating to properties. A certificate is issued to certify the amount of stamp duty relating to the document or agreement has been paid. For arranging the tenancy agreement for the Ang Mo Kio property, Cheong was also paid an agent's commission of $4,500 by a landlord. Although not authorised to collect GST, he charged an additional $315 in GST using a forged invoice.

In a media release, Iras said it takes a serious view of anyone who deliberately forges stamp certificates or knowingly misrepresents counterfeit certificates as genuine. Potential tenants and property buyers are encouraged to check the authenticity of their stamp certificates online at http://estamping.iras.gov.sg

Cheong could have been jailed up to three years and fined up to $10,000 for forging the stamp certificate. For unlawful collection of GST, he could have been fined up to $10,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2015, with the headline 'Ex-property agent jailed, fined for forging stamp certificate'. Print Edition | Subscribe