Two men jailed, fined for buying and selling duty-unpaid cigarettes via WeChat

Chinese nationals Bao Jiancao and Zhu Xingbing were fined and given jail sentences for buying and selling duty-unpaid cigarettes via WeChat.
Chinese nationals Bao Jiancao and Zhu Xingbing were fined and given jail sentences for buying and selling duty-unpaid cigarettes via WeChat. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Two men who used Chinese social networking platform WeChat to buy and sell duty-unpaid cigarettes were sentenced in court on Friday.

Chinese nationals Bao Jiancao, 29, and Zhu Xingbing, 45, were arrested after Singapore Customs officers carried out two separate operations in Geylang and Woodlands on Tuesday (Oct 18).

Bao was given a jail term of three months and one week, while Zhu was slapped with a two months jail term and a $2,000 fine.

On Oct 18, officers who approached Bao outside a condominium in Lorong 39 Geylang found 12 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes in his backpack. When they searched his rented room in the condominium, they found and seized 52 cartons and four opened packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes.

Earlier that day, they had searched the premises of a company in Woodlands Industrial Park and found 22 cartons and 17 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes in Zhu's sling bag and metal chest.

They later found another five packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes, including an opened packet, in Zhu's rented housing board flat in Woodlands.

Investigations revealed that Bao had been buying and selling duty-unpaid cigarettes via WeChat. Zhu, who sold duty-unpaid cigarettes to his colleagues and friends, had also bought his stock of duty-unpaid cigarettes via WeChat.

The seized cigarettes in both cases were of the Golden Deer brand, which is not available for sale publicly in Singapore.

The total duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) involved in the two cases amounted to more than $5,480 in Bao's case, and $2,050 in Zhu's case.

Buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, having in possession or dealing with duty-unpaid goods are serious offences under the Customs Act and the GST Act.

Offenders can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded, and/or jailed for up to six years.

The minimum fine for first-time and repeat offenders of tobacco-related offences

is $2,000 and $4,000 respectively. Repeat offenders who are caught with more than 2kg of tobacco products will also face mandatory jail sentences.