SINGAPORE - Four Singaporean men were fined $110 million in total for dealing with duty-unpaid cigarettes, Singapore Customs said in a statement on Thursday (Oct 31).
The men - Kamaruddin Abdul Latiff, 51, Mohamad Khair Jonid, 51, Noor Hazlan Selamat, 51, and Rahmad Mohd Yasin, 38 - are repeat offenders and were sentenced by the State Courts this month to jail terms of between 33 months and 45 months.
Kamaruddin was fined $8 million and the rest were hit with $34 million fines each. Kamaruddin, while in remission for an earlier Customs offence, was also jailed another 105 days for breaching a prison remission order.
If they are unable to pay the fines, they have to spend between 21 and 28 more months in jail.
The $34 million fine is the highest amount meted out by the State Courts, said Singapore Customs. But in February, another man was fined the same figure over contraband cigarettes seized.
For the latest cases, Singapore Customs said that the four men had evaded more than $1 million in duty and goods and services tax (GST) and received heavier punishments under the Customs Act as they were repeat offenders.
Their offences came to light on March 23, 2018, when Singapore Customs officers found 10,800 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes in a 20-foot container at an industrial building in Sunview Road near Boon Lay.
Investigations revealed that between February and March last year, Rahmad had approached Noor Hazlan to look for a warehouse unit to store duty-unpaid cigarettes.
Noor Hazlan then engaged Mohamad Khair to rent a warehouse unit. In return, Rahmad offered to pay Noor Hazlan and Mohamad Khair $2,500 each for every successful shipment of duty-unpaid cigarettes delivered to the warehouse.
Investigations also revealed that in March last year, Kamaruddin had purchased 2,500 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes from Rahmad. The cartons were part of the batch seized on March 23.
The total amount of duty and GST evaded was about $1.12 million and $81,410 respectively.
It is an offence to buy, sell, convey, deliver, store, keep, possess or deal with duty-unpaid goods, Singapore Customs warned. Offenders can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded, jailed for up to six years, or both.
Vehicles used in the commission of such offences can also be forfeited.
Members of the public with information on smuggling activities or evasion of customs duty or GST can call the Singapore Customs hotline on 1800-233-0000, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the Customs@SG mobile app to report these illegal activities.