Trio who ran tainted liquor racket jailed

Three men were jailed between 18 months and 36 months yesterday for running an adulterated liquor syndicate.
Three men were jailed between 18 months and 36 months yesterday for running an adulterated liquor syndicate.PHOTO: ST FILE

Three men were given jail terms of between 18 months and 36 months yesterday for their roles in running a syndicate that made bottles of adulterated liquor for sale on a large scale.

The mastermind, businessman Ng Yan Puae, 53, who received the highest sentence of 36 months, is appealing against the conviction and sentence. He has claimed trial to nine Customs Act charges.

Lai Tze Sian, 59, described as the "front" and "fall guy", was given a total of 30 months' jail while bottler Tan Teng Suan, 49, was sentenced to a total of 18 months' jail backdated to Feb 15 last year.

Last month, all three were convicted after trial of charges of abetment by engaging in a conspiracy between 2007 and 2013 to possess items with falsely applied trademarks of brands such as Chivas and Moet Hennessy.

They were also found guilty of conspiring to sell bottles of liquor with falsely applied trademarks.

Yesterday, Lai and Tan pleaded guilty to five and three charges respectively. Lai was fined $578,000 or 15 months and two weeks' jail in default. Tan was fined $565,000 or one day and two weeks' jail .

Acting on a tip-off, police and Customs officers raided a warehouse in Woodlands Industrial Park E5 on April 30, 2013, and found 345 bottles of duty-unpaid liquor.

Tan and another man admitted they had bottled all 345 bottles. Also found were 63 jerry cans with 1,752 litres of duty-unpaid liquor. More bottles were found in a van and on a trolley beside the vehicle at Golden Mile Tower in Beach Road.

Investigations showed that Lai supervised the operation. The unbranded duty-unpaid liquor was smuggled into Singapore from Malaysia in jerry cans, transported to a Woodlands production facility, and transferred into empty bottles collected from drinking establishments around Singapore.

A small amount of water would be added to dilute the liquor. After being filled, the bottles were capped, sealed and labelled with counterfeit brand labels, and delivered to the warehouse.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Quek Jing Feng said 53,421 pieces of dry goods, such as labels, caps and bottle neck sleeves, 497 bottles containing adulterated and counterfeit liquor, and 13,000 empty liquor bottles were among other items seized by police. The retail price of the 497 bottles before tax was about $28,500.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2016, with the headline 'Trio who ran tainted liquor racket jailed'. Print Edition | Subscribe