Two fined $3.98m each for evasion of duty, GST

Amount involved in alcohol offences totalled over $890k; 41/2 years' jail each if fines unpaid

Two men were each fined more than $3.98 million for fraudulent evasion of duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Singapore Customs said yesterday. It said the duty and GST involved totalled in excess of $890,000.

Song Hock Kee, 55, and Tan Lip Cheong, 51, pleaded guilty to 18 charges and were sentenced by the State Courts last Thursday. Another 30 charges were taken into consideration in the sentencing.

If they fail to pay the fines, they will each face a prison term of about 41/2 years.

Song, the director of a company named Windemac Pte Ltd, submitted two permit declarations to Singapore Customs for the export of 51,558 bottles of liquor, wine and beer in February last year.

But instead of exporting all the bottles, Song was in cahoots with Tan, Windemac's manager.

They retained 9,810 bottles of duty-unpaid liquor and beer, which they intended to sell to customers in Singapore at a profit.

Five months after the false declarations were made, Windemac was listed as insolvent by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.

Customs investigations also revealed that the duo were involved in diverting duty-unpaid liquor meant for export into the Singapore market on nine previous occasions.

The Straits Times has learnt that Song was a partner at a similarly named company in Hong Kong, Windemac (HK) Pte Ltd, from 2008 to 2014. Attempts to contact the two men or their company were unsuccessful.

In response to ST queries, Windemac (HK)'s director, Mr Nelson Hung, claimed that the Windemac firm directed by Song from Singapore has "nothing to do with me or anything in Hong Kong".

Ms Fauziah Abdul Sani, Singapore Customs' head of the Trade Investigation Branch, said fraudulent evasion of duty and GST are serious offences.

"We are keeping a close watch on such illegal activities, and offenders will be severely punished under the law," she added.

Under the Customs Act, any person who is guilty of dealing in dutiable goods with the intention to defraud the Government of any duty and GST will be liable on conviction to a fine of up to 20 times the amount of duty and GST evaded.

  • Additional reporting by Aw Cheng Wei and Benjamin Tan
  • 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.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2016, with the headline 'Two fined $3.98m each for evasion of duty, GST'. Print Edition | Subscribe