Company director fined $48,000 for false declarations in steel export documents

SINGAPORE - A director of a wholesale trade company was on Tuesday (Oct 30) fined $48,000 for making false statements in document applications for goods worth about $1.2 million.

Singaporean Chetan Rasiklal Sheth, 63, made the false statements while applying for certificates of origin for the export of 22 shipments of stainless steel coils and sheets with a value of $1,255,390.

He was exporting goods for his company, Tradewinds Impex, to India.

A certificate of origin is a trade document that identifies the origin of the goods.

Singapore Customs, in a statement on Tuesday, said that it launched investigations into the company after receiving information that it was facilitating the evasion of anti-dumping duties in India.

Investigations revealed that between September 2014 and July 2015, Chetan had made false statements to the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) and the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SMCCI).

Chetan had declared that the stainless steel coils and sheets originated from countries such as Japan, Malaysia and Turkey when the goods had, in fact, originated from Thailand, Italy, India and the United States.

Chetan applied for the certificates under the instruction of a man whom he met during his business trip to India in 2014.

The man agreed to pay Chetan a commission to apply for the certificates that would be used to facilitate the import of the stainless steel products into India.

In total, Chetan would have been paid a commission of US$39,834 (S$55,130) by the man.

In applying for the certificates from the SICCI and SMCCI, Chetan relied solely on the documents provided by the man.

Singapore Customs assistant director-general (intelligence and investigation) Yeo Sew Meng said that submitting false statements to obtain certificates of origin are serious offences.

"Errant traders will be brought to task to ensure a level playing field for all traders and to uphold Singapore's position as a trusted trade hub," he added.

Anyone found guilty of giving false statements to the authorities to obtain the certificates of origin may be fined up to $100,000 or three times the value of the goods involved in the offence, whichever amount is greater.

The offender may also face a jail term of up to two years.