SINGAPORE: HEFTY FINES OR LONG JAIL TERMS TO BIGGEST ALCOHOL TAX EVASION GANG
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
Credit: Hu Chen/Unsplash
Three men who masterminded Singapore’s largest and longest-running alcohol tax evasion syndicate were ordered by court to pay hefty fines of SGD48million (USD34m), SGD36m and SGD28m respectively, for having evaded a total of USD25m of taxes.
One of the masterminds, Lim Wei Luen, 41, has pleaded guilty to charges of fraudulent evasion of excise duty and goods and services tax (GST).
Lim was fined SGD28m in court yesterday, he will have to spend 6 years and 8 months in jail if he cannot pay the fine.
Another mastermind, Teo Tian Soon, 56, was earlier sentenced to a year's jail and a fine of nearly SGD48m. He has to serve another 8 years and 9 months in jail if he cannot pay the fine.
Quek Beng Yong, 47, who helped Teo forged documents, was fined SGD36 million and jailed another nine months for forgery. Several others have also been prosecuted and dealt with for their involvement in the crime.
The syndicate was active between 2017 and 2019. They had exploited the scheme where alcohol consumed on vessels calling at Singapore can be tax-free.
The group used forgery documents to divert alcohol supposed to be supplied to these vessels to the local market, thus evading the excise duty and GST payable estimated to worth a total of USD25m.
Teo was himself an alcohol supplier to these vessels and knows the regulations and procedures inside out. He met Lim in 2017 and the two soon started the scam.
Teo and Quek were mainly responsible for the first part of the scam, which involved purchasing of duty unpaid alcohol from a supplier, setting up of shell companies and recruiting affiliates to be declared as company directors on forged documents.
Lim was responsible for the second part, which is distributing and selling the duty unpaid alcohol to buyers in the local market.
Singapore levies SGD88 per litre of alcohol content as excise duty. For a 750ml bottle of wine with 13 percent ABV, the excise duty will be SGD8.5 (88 x 0.75 x 0.13). While the GST is 7 percent of retail price.
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