Court orders more than $1.5m to be confiscated from man who dealt with contraband cigarettes

SINGAPORE - A man who was sentenced to nine months' jail in 2013 for storing more than 307 cartons of contraband cigarettes has been issued a confiscation order for more than $1.5 million by the High Court after a further probe.

The court issued the confiscation order of $1,575,288.70 against Tan Hock Chwee, 68, on Tuesday (April 17).

Tan had been arrested for storing duty-unpaid cigarettes. The Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Customs conducted joint investigations against him, seizing cash, a luxury watch and bank deposits from him.

After Tan was sentenced on July 3, 2013, CAD conducted further probes into his financial affairs as there was evidence he had "significant wealth that could not be satisfactorily accounted for", the police and Singapore Customs said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The wealth was believed to be Tan's benefits from criminal conduct.

CAD investigated with a view to applying for a court order to confiscate his illicit monies, and established that Tan had accumulated $875,288.70 of unexplained wealth between Jan 1, 2009, and July 25, 2012.

Tan had used part of his unexplained wealth to buy a terraced house in 2010. The property has since appreciated in value, resulting in a capital gain of around $700,000.

"This capital gain is also regarded as part of Tan's benefits from criminal conduct," said the agencies in their statement. "The total benefits derived by Tan from criminal conduct is therefore $1,575,288.70."

Singapore Customs stressed that customs offences such as buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, having in possession or dealing with duty-unpaid goods are regarded as serious offences under the Second Schedule of the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.

Anyone who is convicted of a serious offence can have the benefits derived by him from criminal conduct confiscated.