Over 6,000 cartons of illegal cigarettes seized, five people arrested

More than 6,000 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were seized by Singapore Customs officers who observed activity at the loading and unloading bay of an industrial building in Woodlands Industrial Park.

Four men - three Singaporeans and a Malaysian - as well as one Malaysian woman, all between 21 and 54 years old, were arrested last Thursday, Singapore Customs said in a statement yesterday.

Customs officers had observed boxes being transferred into a Singapore-registered box truck at the loading and unloading bay of the industrial building, and suspected that they contained duty-unpaid cigarettes.

They found 1,120 cartons of such cigarettes in the truck and arrested the Malaysian woman and three Singaporean men.

Further checks uncovered another 4,928 cartons in another Singapore-registered truck in the vicinity, making it a haul of 6,048 cartons in all.

Subsequently, the driver of a Malaysia-registered lorry, that was suspected to be used to deliver the cigarettes, was arrested at Tuas Checkpoint when he attempted to leave Singapore.

The duty evaded amounted to $516,490 and the goods and services tax (GST) evaded was $41,430. All three vehicles were seized.

The agency said investigations are ongoing.

"We would like to seek the cooperation of owners of industrial premises to be alert and look out for suspicious persons and activities to prevent their premises from being misused," said Mr Yeo Sew Meng, assistant director-general of intelligence and investigation at Singapore Customs.

The agency warned that buying, selling, conveying, delivering or storing duty-unpaid goods is a serious offence under the Customs Act and GST Act.

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

Vehicles used in the commission of such offences are also liable to be forfeited, added the agency.

• Those with information on smuggling activities or evasion of Customs duty or GST can call the Singapore Customs hotline on 1800-233-0000 or e-mail customs_intelligence@ customs.gov.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2021, with the headline 'Over 6,000 cartons of illegal cigarettes seized, five people arrested'. Subscribe