Company director becomes first person to be jailed for giving false information to Iras

SINGAPORE - A director of a firm that deals with electrical and metal subcontracting works has become the first person here to be sent to jail for giving false information to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras).

For his offences, Law Yu Hong, who was a director of a company called Ho Sin, was sentenced on Friday (Dec 18) to 10 days' jail and a fine of $5,000.

He was also ordered to pay a penalty of $38,400, which is twice the amount he had tried to fraudulently obtain from a ruse involving a government productivity scheme.

The 53-year-old Singaporean had earlier admitted that he had given false information to Iras during the course of investigations.

He also admitted to abetting Ho Sin in providing false information to the Comptroller of Income Tax in its cash payout application form for the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme.

The initiative was introduced in 2010 to encourage businesses in Singapore to invest in productivity and innovation.

The scheme, which ended in 2018, offered tax deductions or cash payouts to companies that made genuine investments to enhance productivity and innovation, such as by investing in staff training, information technology or automation equipment.

Law's case is linked to Ng Cheow Chai, 47, who was the managing director of equipment wholesaler SMS Machinery at the time of the offences. Ng was also the mastermind behind the largest case of fraud involving the PIC scheme.

Ng had helped 83 businesses submit fraudulent claims to the scheme between March 2013 and July 2016, seeking payouts of $2.7 million they were not entitled to.

He was sentenced to 46 months' jail in March and ordered to pay a penalty of $5.75 million - four times the amount of the payouts wrongfully obtained.

He has to spend an additional 31½ months behind bars if he is unable to pay the amount.

The court heard that Law had earlier contacted Ng to buy a shearing machine for Ho Sin.

Tax prosecutor Irene Kuek from Iras said: "Subsequently, (Ng) presented to the accused a proposal to submit an inflated PIC claim to Iras to obtain a higher PIC cash payout such that (Ho Sin) would not need to pay a single cent for the new machine. The accused agreed to the proposal."

In a statement on Friday, Iras said that as part of the ruse, Ho Sin forged commercial documents to create a false transaction between it and Ng's business.

A form was then submitted in 2016 falsely stating that the machine cost $80,000 when its actual price was $48,000.

The payout was not disbursed following an audit and Iras launched an investigation against Law. He later lied during the investigation, claiming that the transaction was genuine.

An offender convicted of abusing the PIC scheme can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $50,000. The offender will also have to pay a penalty of up to four times the amount of cash payout fraudulently obtained.

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