Magician convicted of 3 counts of helping others make bogus claims under PIC scheme

S. Chandran still has 55 other pending charges against him. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - One man and two women filed fraudulent claims under an Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) scheme, causing the agency to disburse more than $24,000 to each of them.

The prosecution said in their submissions that the trio then handed half of their ill-gotten gains to the man who had helped them create the claims, IT instructor-turned-magician S. Chandran, now 39.

Following a trial, District Judge Kessler Soh on Friday (July 3) found the Singaporean guilty of three counts of helping the trio make bogus claims under the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme, which was aimed at encouraging productivity.

Chandran, who was the sole proprietor of a firm called Paradize Consultancy, still has 55 other pending charges against him and he told the court that he will not be pleading guilty to them.

The PIC scheme 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.

As part of the conditions, businesses had to employ at least three local employees before they were eligible for the PIC cash payouts.

Chandran had helped others obtain the monies even though they were not eligible for the scheme, the court heard.

The trio - Mahendran Rajoo, Shanti Peerisamy and Crystal Priya Ragavan- received their monies in 2014.

For his role in the ruse, Mahendran was ordered to pay a $49,212 penalty in 2017. He was also given the maximum $5,000 fine.

The Straits Times understands that the two women had been given conditional warnings.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sanjiv Vaswani as well as Iras prosecutors Norman Teo and Christopher Lim said in their submissions that Chandran had earlier helped Mahendran register a sole proprietorship called M Midhuna.

The court heard that Chandran was also aware that the company had no employees.

Despite this, he "instigated and convinced" Mahendran to make a bogus PIC claim, said the prosecutors.

They also said that Chandran had pre-filled the PIC application form for M Midhuna, including filling the revenue portion of the form with the figure of $1,000 to give the impression to Iras that M Midhuna was generating revenue when it was not.

The prosecutors added: "(From) Mahendran's testimony, it is clear that he placed a significant amount of trust in the accused and went ahead with the PIC claim because the accused assured him that it was legal.

"Throughout the whole claim process, Mahendran was just being hand-held by the accused and complied with every instruction that the accused gave him. This included following the accused's instruction to sign on the PIC application form."

The court heard that Chandran committed similar offences with the two women.

Chandran, who was unrepresented, had told the court earlier during the trial that he did not know the employee information in the PIC application forms linked to the trio was false.

He is now out on $200,000 bail and will be sentenced on Aug 14.

For each charge, offenders can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $50,000.

They can also be ordered to pay a penalty amounting to four times the amount of cash payouts and bonuses disbursed.

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