Man jailed 17 months for dealing with duty-unpaid cigarettes

Cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were found hidden under banana leaves in the boxes of goods declared as food items.
Cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were found hidden under banana leaves in the boxes of goods declared as food items.PHOTO: SINGAPORE CUSTOMS
Cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were found hidden under banana leaves in the boxes of goods declared as food items.
Cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were found hidden under banana leaves in the boxes of goods declared as food items.PHOTO: SINGAPORE CUSTOMS
A total of 706 cartons and 1,445 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes were seized in this operation.
A total of 706 cartons and 1,445 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes were seized in this operation.PHOTO: SINGAPORE CUSTOMS

SINGAPORE - A 21-year-old Indonesian man was jailed 17 months on Tuesday (Aug 15) for dealing with cigarettes with unpaid duty of about $85,550.

More than 700 cartons of cigarettes were seized in an operation by the Singapore Customs two weeks ago, where the man was arrested. In addition to the unpaid duty, the cigarettes also evaded Goods and Services Tax (GST) amounting to $6,230.

On Aug 5, Singapore Customs officers trailed a truck as it delivered boxes of goods to the Geylang Serai Market. The officers saw the offender, Suryadi Memet, waiting at the market to collect the boxes from the truck and moved in to conduct a check. They found a total of 706 cartons and 1,445 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes concealed under banana leaves.

The boxes of goods, which were unstuffed from an import container, were declared as food items in an import permit taken up by a local trading company. The goods belonged to different owners but the local trading company had allowed itself to be declared as the importer of the container. The company is also under investigation.

"Singapore Customs will not let up on our enforcement efforts against offenders who are involved in such smuggling activities," said Singapore Customs Assistant Director-General (Intelligence and Investigation) Yeo Sew Meng.

"(Traders) should refrain from acting as the importer or exporter for goods which do not belong to them as they will be held liable for any wrong declarations, and be subjected to penalties if the goods contravene the Customs Act or other relevant legislation," added Mr Yeo.

Buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, having in possession or dealing with duty-unpaid goods are serious offences under the Customs Act and the GST Act.

Offenders can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded and/or jailed for up to six years.

Repeat offenders who are caught with more than 2kg of tobacco products will also face mandatory imprisonment. Vehicles used in the commission of such offences are also liable to be forfeited.

Under the Customs Act, a person guilty of making an incorrect declaration can be fined up to $10,000 or the amount of duty and GST evaded, whichever is higher, and/or jailed up to 12 months.