Indonesian, 3 S'poreans charged over involvement in contraband cigarette activities

Duty-unpaid cigarettes were hidden in the hollow spaces within the modified bed headboards. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE CUSTOMS
Duty-unpaid cigarettes were hidden in the hollow spaces within the modified bed headboards. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE CUSTOMS
The duty-unpaid cigarettes were retrieved from the modified bed headboards and packed into boxes in the warehouse at Loyang Crescent. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE CUSTOMS
The duty-unpaid cigarettes were retrieved from the modified bed headboards and packed into boxes in the warehouse at Loyang Crescent. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE CUSTOMS

SINGAPORE - Three Singaporeans and one Indonesian were charged in the State Courts on June 11 over their involvement in contraband cigarette activities, said the Singapore Customs and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority in a joint release on Tuesday.

The three Singaporeans - Muhammad Khairul Anwar Bin Abdul Hadi, 30, Zulkiflee Bin Wari, 40, and Ramdan Bin Tengalim, 48 - as well as the Indonesian man Haidir, 37, had been arrested on June 10 by Singapore Customs officers

On June 9, Singapore Customs and the ICA had collaborated to check a consignment of 30 bed headboards that had arrived at Seletar Airport that day. They found duty-unpaid cigarettes hidden in hollow spaces of the specially modified headboards.

With Singapore Customs officers keeping watch, the consignment was transported by truck to a warehouse at Loyang Crescent. At about 10pm, they spotted the truck leaving the warehouse, and trailed it to a Housing Board block at Pasir Ris Street 21.

There, they saw Muhammad Khairul, Zulkiflee and two other Singaporean men disposing of the headboards at a refuse collection centre nearby. The officers moved in to arrest the four men and seize the truck.

Investigations revealed that the duty-unpaid cigarettes had been retrieved from the headboards in the warehouse earlier. The officers raided the warehouse and arrested Ramdan, Haidir and another Singaporean man, who had been packing the cigarettes into boxes.

A total of 2,999 cartons and 7 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes were seized and the three men were arrested. The total duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded amounted to over $309,000.

Court proceedings are underway for Muhammad Khairul, Zulkiflee, Ramdan and Haidir. Investigations are ongoing for the other three suspects.

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

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

The minimum court fine for first-time and repeat offenders of tobacco-related offences are $2,000 and $4,000 respectively.

Repeat offenders who are caught with more than 2kg of tobacco products will also face mandatory imprisonment.

Vehicles used in committing such offences are also liable to be forfeited.

janiceh@sph.com.sg