SINGAPORE: A total of 5,635 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes have been seized by Singapore Customs from a self-storage facility in the north-east of the country.
The total amount of duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) involved amounted to about S$437,280, and S$44,020 respectively, said Singapore Customs in a media release on Friday (Dec 9).
Officers had kept a close watch as a shipment imported from China - declared as decorative items - was delivered to the self-storage facility on Wednesday afternoon. When the officers checked the consignment, they found 3,438 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes that were hidden in 79 boxes of picture frames.
The contraband cigarettes were hidden in picture frames. (Photo: Singapore Customs)
Following further investigations, officers raided a unit in the same self-storage facility and recovered another 2,197 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes.
(Photo: Singapore Customs)
Head of Singapore Customs' Special Investigation Branch Tok Choon Min advised operators of self-storage facilities to exercise proper due diligence in screening people who rent their facilities. "They should also report any suspected illegal cigarette activities taking place on their premises to Singapore Customs,” he said.
Buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, having in possession or dealing with duty-unpaid goods are offences under the Customs Act and the GST Act.
Offenders can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded, and/or jailed for up to six years.
Repeat offenders who are caught with more than 2kg of tobacco products will also face mandatory imprisonment, while vehicles used in the commission of such offences may be forfeited.