Ex-sales exec jailed two years for corruption and abetting in GST tourist refund fraud

Former sales executive Lim Pheck Aun, 50, was jailed for two years and ordered to pay penalties on Monday for corruption and abetting in Goods and Services Tax tourist refund fraud. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Former sales executive Lim Pheck Aun, 50, was jailed for two years and ordered to pay penalties on Monday for corruption and abetting in Goods and Services Tax tourist refund fraud. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A former sales executive was jailed for two years and ordered to pay penalties on Monday for corruption and abetting in Goods and Services Tax tourist refund fraud.

Lim Pheck Aun, 50, is the last man to be convicted in the scam. He pleaded guilty to helping two Indian nationals to evade tax by making false entries into the electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS) to enable them to apply for GST refunds for jewellery items they never bought. This was at Soon Huat Goldsmith, Serangoon Road, where he worked.

Lim, who faced a total of 32 charges, admitted to six offences under the Goods and Services Act, and three of corruption.

The total amount of bribes in kind or in cash amounted to $724, and the tax evaded, $23,117. He was ordered to pay $724 as penalty, as well as $27,170, which is three times the tax undercharged in the six charges proceeded with.

Seven bottles of DOM liquor he accepted from Indian national Sundar Panneer Selvam, 46, in return for generating eTRS tickets for fraudulent GST claims, were forfeited.

The court heard that part of his duties as a salesman were to sell jewellery, raise invoices or receipts for sales, collect payment and issue eTRS tickets to customers to claim GST refunds.

He was aware that he had to verify the receipts with the items bought by the tourist, ensure that the tourist was a genuine buyer, and check the person's passport to confirm that he was eligible to apply for GST refunds.

Investigation showed that he had corruptly accepted bribes in the form of bottles of DOM and cash from Sundar and Baskaran Uthirapathy, 28, in exchange for falsely entering their particulars as buyers of the items reflected in the receipts, so they could get refunds which they were not entitled to.

He committed the offences from November 2013 to January last year .

Recently, higher customs officer Mohamed Yusof Abdul Rahman, 67, was jailed for five years for aiding four Indian nationals to commit GST fraud and for corruption. He was also ordered to pay penalties of $11,400 for corruption and $661,685 - three times the tax defrauded.

Lim's lawyer Ravinderpal Singh said his client, who has two sons, was declared a bankrupt in May last year and left his sales job after 26 years with the shop. His family was distraught by the matter and had been very shaken, he said.