4 men jailed, fined $110m over duty-unpaid cigarettes

Duty-unpaid cigarettes stored in a 20-foot container in an industrial building near Boon Lay. On March 23 last year, Singapore Customs officers found 10,800 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes housed in Sunview Road.
On March 23 last year, Singapore Customs officers found 10,800 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes housed in Sunview Road.PHOTO: SINGAPORE CUSTOMS
Duty-unpaid cigarettes stored in a 20-foot container in an industrial building near Boon Lay. On March 23 last year, Singapore Customs officers found 10,800 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes housed in Sunview Road.
Duty-unpaid cigarettes stored in a 20-foot container in an industrial building near Boon Lay. PHOTO: SINGAPORE CUSTOMS

Four Singaporean men were fined $110 million in total for dealing with duty-unpaid cigarettes, Singapore Customs said in a statement yesterday.

The men - Kamaruddin Abdul Latiff, 51, Mohamad Khair Jonid, 51, Noor Hazlan Selamat, 51, and Rahmad Mohd Yasin, 38 - are repeat offenders.

They were sentenced by the State Courts last 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 the men 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. In February, another man was fined the same figure over contraband cigarettes seized.

For the latest cases, Singapore Customs said the four men had evaded more than $1 million in duty and goods and services tax (GST).

They were given heavier punishments under the Customs Act as they were repeat offenders.

 
 
 
 

Their offences came to light on March 23 last year when Singapore Customs officers found 10,800 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes in a 20-foot container in an industrial building in Sunview Road near Boon Lay.

Investigations revealed that between February and March last year, Rahmad 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 showed that in March last year, Kamaruddin bought 2,500 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes from Rahmad.

The cartons were part of the batch seized on March 23. The sum 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2019, with the headline '4 men jailed, fined $110m over duty-unpaid cigarettes'. Print Edition | Subscribe