Two men fined for e-cigarette offences

The duo had been ordering e-cigarettes and accessories online since May or early June 2013.
The duo had been ordering e-cigarettes and accessories online since May or early June 2013. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Two men were fined on Thursday for importing and selling electronic cigarettes online.

Engineer Francis Chue Kar Fatt, 33, and property agent Zhang Zhaoming, 32, who each pleaded guilty to 10 charges, were fined $16,000 and $15,000 respectively.

Chue faced two charges of wilfully obstructing an authorised officer by deleting a website and a PayPal account that had evidence of e-cigarette sales transactions, and four each of selling and importing e-cigarettes with Zhang.

A warrant has also been issued for the arrest of Chue's wife, Rattikan Khamtong, a 30-year-old Thai national, who also ran an online e-cigarette business. She is no longer in the country.

Health Sciences Authority officers found Khamtong to be offering such products for sale through their surveillance of online electronic cigarette peddlers,.

On Jan 7, 2013, officers raided her home in Woodlands Drive 75 and found e-cigarettes, related peripherals and SingPost receipts as well as a lot of information on a desktop computer .

While officers were carrying out the search, she instructed her husband to delete the website that contained information on all the transacted sales. She gave him the username and password so he could delete it from his office laptop at the Land Transport Authority, where he worked as an IT officer.

On July 18 that year, the day that HSA officers raided Zhang's home in Sengkang, Chue deleted a PayPal account containing e-cigarette sales transactions from another website.

Investigations showed that despite knowing it was an offence to deal in e-cigarettes, Zhang was still interested, and he started an online business with Chue's help sometime in June that year.

The duo had agreed on the terms of the business and on a profit-sharing arrangement.

They had been ordering e-cigarettes and accessories online since May or early June 2013 and payments were made via Zhang's credit card. The e-cigarettes were sold for between $55 and $110 each.

Both men could have been fined up to $5,000 on each charge of selling or importing. For obstruction, Chue could have been fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to 12 months per charge.