SINGAPORE: Four Malaysian men were on Wednesday (May 27) charged in the State Courts for their involvement in contraband cigarette activities, the Singapore Customs and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said on Thursday.
In a joint press release, the authorities said the four men are: Ng Kuan Hwa, 25; Ooi Teik Wei, 27; Gooi Chin Lean, 25; and Tay Chee Yong, 21. They were arrested on May 25 by Singapore Customs officers, and a total of 3,700 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes worth more than S$409,000 were seized.
The duty and Goods and Services Tax evaded exceeded S$334,000, said the authorities, adding that two Singapore-registered vehicles - a van and a lorry - were also seized.
The Singapore Customs and ICA said that on May 25, officers were watching a warehouse unit at Woodlands Industrial Park and, suspecting that there were illegal cigarette activities, raided the unit. Inside, they saw the four men and found the duty-unpaid cigarettes, which had been retrieved from the hollow spaces within 12 concrete barriers.
Court proceedings are ongoing for the four men, the press release said.
Buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, having in possession or dealing with duty-unpaid goods are serious offences under the Customs Act and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act. Offenders will be severely dealt with. They can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded and/or jailed for up to six years.
The minimum court fine for first-time and repeat offenders of tobacco-related offences are S$2,000 and S$4,000, respectively. Repeat offenders who are caught with more than two kilogrammes of tobacco products will also face mandatory imprisonment. Vehicles used in the commission of such offences are also liable to be forfeited.