SINGAPORE - An Indian national was jailed for close to two years for, among other things, storing and dealing with contraband cigarettes, and evading nearly $130,000 in duties and taxes.
The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) and Singapore Customs said in a joint release on Wednesday (Aug 21) that Veerappan Vimalraj, 33, had stored and dealt with 14,130 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes, evading $120,670 in duty and $8,900 in goods and services tax (GST).
He also possessed 12,180 sachets of Khaini tobacco, a type of prohibited chewing tobacco, worth more than $24,000, which he intended to sell.
The Singapore customs officers conducted an operation on May 21 and found Veerappan entering a storage facility in Neythal Road.
A total of 10,680 sachets of the chewing tobacco and 13,130 packets of contraband cigarettes were found in the facility.
Investigations found that Veerappan was paid $600 a month to sell both items.
Another 1,500 sachets of chewing tobacco and 1,000 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes were also found in a car parked near the storage facility.
Veerappan used the car to deliver the items to his customers. To avoid attention, he hid the items in a bush after reaching the delivery locations. After collecting the items, his customers would either place the payment in the same spot or hand him cash.
The car and $5,927 in cash were also seized.
Veerappan was found guilty and sentenced to jail for 19 months and 11 weeks. The seized cash was also forfeited.
HSA and Customs reminded the public that importing, distributing, possessing for sale, selling or offering to sell emerging tobacco products are prohibited. These include shisha tobacco, smokeless tobacco, chewing tobacco such as Gutkha, Khaini, Zarda, vaporisers and their constituents.
The public should also not purchase or bring any such harmful tobacco products into Singapore.
Possessing, buying and using emerging tobacco products is also not allowed here and those found guilty can be fined up to $2,000 for each offence.
If the public has information on the prohibited sale of harmful tobacco products, they should call the Tobacco Regulation Branch on 6684-2036 or 6684-2037 during office hours.
Offenders guilty of buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, possessing or dealing with duty-unpaid goods can be fined 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded and/or jailed up to six years. Vehicles involved in these offences will be forfeited too.
Members of the public with information on smuggling activities or evasion of customs duty or GST can contact the Customs hotline on 1800-233-000, e-mail email@example.com or use the Customs @ SG mobile app to report these illegal activities.