SINGAPORE: Customs officers seized close to 12,000 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes in the Tuas industrial area during several raids in November, Singapore Customs said in a media release on Wednesday (Nov 28).
In the first raid on Nov 2, Singapore Customs officers arrested three Singaporean men in an industrial unit at Tuas South Avenue 3. The suspects were retrieving duty-unpaid cigarettes that were hidden in concrete slabs at the time of the raid.
A total of 2,400 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were found.
On Nov 7, customs officers raided an industrial unit at Tuas South Street 1 and found 5,431 cartons and 29 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes hidden in six excavator arms.
Five Malaysian men were arrested.
The third raid took place on Nov 24, in a yard at Tuas Avenue 14. Singapore Customs officers saw four men retrieving duty-unpaid cigarettes that were hidden in eight concrete slabs and loading them onto a lorry.
The four men - an Indonesian, a Malaysian and two Singaporeans - were arrested and a total of 4,148 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were seized.
The total duty and Goods and Services Tax evaded amounted to about S$1,074,390 and S$78,520 respectively, Singapore Customs said.
"We advise owners and managing agents of industrial premises to exercise due diligence to prevent their premises from being used by syndicates for duty-unpaid cigarette activities," said Singapore Customs Assistant Director-General for intelligence and investigation Yeo Sew Meng.
"They should strengthen access controls at their premises and also look out for red flags such as persons seeking to rent the premises on a short-term basis, paying cash, and not being able to provide a credible business purpose for the rental."
Those found guilty of buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, having in possession or dealing with duty-unpaid goods will face a fine of up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded, six years' jail, or both. Vehicles used in the commission of such offences are also liable to be forfeited.
Members of the public with information on such activities can call the Singapore Customs hotline at 1800-2330000, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, they can use the Customs@SG mobile app, available for download from the Apple Store or Google Play.