Two more jewellery shop employees fined for their part in GST tourist refund scam

Kulamani Ganesan (left) and Manickavasagam Saravanan were linked to claims totalling $3,576.55 and $1,194.97 respectively.
Kulamani Ganesan (left) and Manickavasagam Saravanan were linked to claims totalling $3,576.55 and $1,194.97 respectively.ST PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - Two more men who worked for a jewellery shop in Little India have been fined a total of $13,500 for their part in a scam involving fraudulent claims under the electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS).

On Friday (July 5), District Judge Adam Nakhoda fined Manickavasagam Saravanan, 41, $10,500 after the latter pleaded guilty to seven charges under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) (General) Regulations.

The second man, Kulamani Ganesan, 31, was fined $3,000 after he admitted to two charges.

Manickavasagam and Kulamani were linked to claims totalling $3,576.55 and $1,194.97 respectively.

On Tuesday, four other men, who also worked for the same store, Abiraame Jewellers, were fined between $1,500 and $12,000.

They are Shanmugam Sampathkumar, 33; Murugesan Saravanan, 42; Pang Wei Koon, 46 and Arumugam Chelladurai, 49 .

Except for Pang, who is a Malaysian, the other five are Indian nationals.

Court documents did not state if all six men, who committed the offences in 2015 and 2016, are still working for Abiraame Jewellers.

In a statement on Friday, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) said that the men were linked to a scam that fraudulently claimed GST tourist refunds amounting to more than $15,000.

Five other Indian nationals were members of a syndicate that was behind the scam. Kothandaraman Gnanam, 29; Karunanidhi Rajesh, 32; Karunanithi Saravanan, 37; Ramaiyan Karthikeyan, 44; and 61-year-old Waithiyalingam Karunanidhi were sentenced to jail in 2017.

 
 

Investigations showed that the syndicate made more than $167,000 in fraudulent GST tourist refund claims.

By the time these men were caught, they had moved the benefits of their criminal conduct totalling $112,924 out of Singapore.

Iras said that as part of their illegal scheme, syndicate members or claimants would loiter around a number of Little India jewellery stores, including Abiraame Jewellers' two outlets, to try to obtain invoices from actual customers.

Tax prosecutor Emmanuel Lee, from Iras, told the court on Thursday: "Once a customer agreed to sell or give the invoice, a claimant would give his passport and embarkation card... to an employee of (Abiraame Jewellers) for the purposes of making an application for a GST refund under the claimant's passport number.

"The employee would enter the details of the claimant and the jewellery purchased into the eTRS system."

The employee would then print an eTRS refund ticket for the claimant to unlawfully obtain at the airport GST refunds which they were not entitled to.

In its statement, Iras said it would "not hesitate to take firm action against retailers who are complicit or negligent in the issuing of eTRS tickets leading to the abuse of the Tourist Refund Scheme".

The case involving Palaniappan Ramanathan, 41, a Singaporean who also worked at Abiraame Jewellers, is still pending.