Two former Customs officers charged with fraudulently obtaining GST tourist refunds

The cases involving Pang Yeow Biah and Li Xiangqing are not related to each other.

SINGAPORE - Two former Customs officers were charged in court on Friday (Sept 15) with fraudulently obtaining goods and services tax (GST) tourist refunds involving a total of more than $68,000.

Li Xiangqing, now 34, faces 54 charges for the offences. He allegedly obtained $52,441.17 in GST tourist refunds.

He allegedly committed his offences between November 2011 and August 2012.

Pang Yeow Biah, now 61, is accused of committing her offences between September 2012 and September 2014.

She was charged with 43 counts of fraudulently obtaining the tax refunds totalling $16,015.86.

Pang also faces 38 charges under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act for offences involving $10,553.

The Straits Times understands that the cases involving Pang and Li are not related to each other.

A joint press release from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, the Singapore Customs and the Singapore Police Force said that Li and Pang had earlier been deployed at the GST Refund Inspection Counter at Changi Airport.

Their main duty was to process GST refund claims made by tourists leaving Singapore.

In the course of their work, the duo were presented with claims for GST refunds from tourists.

The three agencies said: "The accused persons would reject some of these tourists' claims. When the opportunity arose, they would take the details of these GST refund claims and use the electronic tourist refund scheme computer system to process the GST refund into their own credit card or credit cards that were under their control.

"The authorities take a serious view of such criminal practices and will take swift action against any individuals and parties involved."

Pang, who is represented by lawyer Jocinda Wong, was offered bail of $15,000.

Li was offered bail of $20,000 and he is represented by lawyer C.S. Lee.

Mr Lee told the court on Friday that his client has made full restitution of the money taken.

Both former Customs officers will be back in court on Oct 13.

If convicted of fraudulently obtaining GST refunds, they can be jailed for up to seven years and fined up to $10,000 for each charge.

On top of the fines, they are also liable to pay penalties of up to three times the amount of refunds wrongfully obtained.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.