A former Singapore Customs officer on Thursday (Feb 5) was sentenced to five years’ jail and ordered to pay a penalty of S$673,084.80 for corruption and abetting four Indian nationals to fraudulently claim Goods and Services Tax (GST) tourist refunds.
Of the amount, S$11,400 was for corruption offences and S$661,684.80 was a penalty of three times the amount of GST defrauded.
Mohamed Yusof Bin Abdul Rahman, 67, pleaded guilty to seven corruption charges, while another 26 charges were taken into consideration.
He also pleaded guilty to 25 GST tax evasion charges, and 78 similar charges were taken into consideration. The offences were committed between January 2013 and January 2014.
As a customs officer, Yusof’s main duty was to process GST refund claims made by tourists leaving Singapore, at Changi International Airport.
In late 2013, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore noticed suspicious claims made by foreigners via the Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS).
Investigations revealed that Yusof helped approve fraudulent GST refund claims of four Indian nationals amounting to S$493,858.67. The claims were approved even though the jewellery produced did not match the description on the receipts.
In return, Yusuf received bribes in cash totalling S$11,400.
The prosecution called this the “most elaborate, sophisticated and pre-meditated GST fraud case since the introduction of the GST electronic tourist refund scheme in August 2012.”
Last year, the four Indian nationals were sentenced to jail terms of between 36 and 48 months, and ordered to pay penalties amounting to three times the tax defrauded.
The case of another accomplice, 50-year-old Lim Pheck Aun, has not been dealt with yet.
At the time of the offences, the sales executive at Soon Huat Goldsmith is believed to have accepted bribes, in return for generating eTRS tickets to those who were not the actual buyers of jewellery.