Two more men in GST tourist refund scam fined

Kulamani Ganesan (left) and Manickavasagam Saravanan, both of whom worked for a jewellery shop in Little India, were fined a total of $13,500 for their part in the scam.
Kulamani Ganesan (left) and Manickavasagam Saravanan, both of whom worked for a jewellery shop in Little India, were fined a total of $13,500 for their part in the scam.

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).

Yesterday, District Judge Adam Nakhoda fined Manickavasagam Saravanan $10,500 after the 41-year-old pleaded guilty to seven charges under the Goods and Services Tax (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 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 yesterday, 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 Waithiyalingam Karunanidhi, 61, were sentenced to jail in 2017.

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

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 told the court yesterday: "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 purpose 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.

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2019, with the headline 'Two more men in GST tourist refund scam fined'. Print Edition | Subscribe