A*Star research fellow fined $7,000 for illegal GST refund for Prada bag and Tiffany ring

Bai Jiaming, 31, was fined a total of $7,000 after he was convicted of two goods and services tax offences. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A research fellow at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) was fined a total of $7,000 on Monday (Oct 9) after he was convicted of two goods and services tax (GST) offences.

Bai Jiaming, 31, a Chinese national, pleaded guilty last Friday (Oct 6) to getting the help of a tourist, Zhang Yaoqun, 61, to get a GST refund of $1,544 for a $23,600 Tiffany diamond ring bought by Bai on March 11, 2017.

He also admitted to getting a Prada bag and the ring from Zhang after a GST refund of $1,792 had been claimed on the two items.

He was detained with the two items when he tried to exit the Arrival North Transit Area of Terminal 3 at Changi Airport that day for suspected misuse of a boarding pass.

Bai, who bought the ring, did not qualify for a GST refund under the Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme as he was not a tourist.

Bai, at the suggestion of his colleague, Zhang Baicheng, engaged the help of the 33-year-old's father to obtain the approval for the GST refund even though the senior Zhang was not entitled to it as he did not buy the ring.

On March 11, Bai, with a one-way air ticket to Jakarta bought the previous day, went with the Zhangs to Changi Airport. The two men had return air tickets for Bangkok.

All three checked in at their respective ticket counters and entered the transit area.

After Zhang Yaoqun successfully claimed the GST refund for the handbag and the ring, he gave the handbag and ring to his son, who, in turn, gave them to Bai.

Bai was stopped by an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officer when he tried to leave the transit area.

Both father and son have been charged and their case is pending.

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) said in a statement that it takes a serious view of anyone who makes false declarations to seek GST refunds under the tourist refund scheme and abuses the scheme.

Iras works closely with the enforcement authorities to uncover any attempt to defraud GST, it added.

Offenders convicted can be fined up to $5,000, and, in default of payment, can be jailed for not more than six months.

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