SINGAPORE: Singapore Customs recently conducted a targeted operation at a carpark in Geylang East Avenue 1 on 28 December 2023, in its efforts to combat illegal cigarette activities.
As per an official statement released on Thursday (4 Jan), Singapore Customs revealed that, in the course of the operation, its officers examined a truck and uncovered 1,356 cartons and 3,190 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes concealed in the vehicle’s cargo compartment.
The individual behind the wheel, a 32-year-old Chinese national male, was apprehended, and both the duty-unpaid cigarettes and the truck were confiscated during the operation.
Further investigations uncovered that the suspect had purportedly been enlisted by an unidentified individual through a social messaging platform to facilitate the collection and delivery of duty-unpaid cigarettes.
The individual, employed as a delivery driver by a food company, had exploited his position to employ the company’s truck for the illicit transportation of the duty-unpaid cigarettes.
The total value of duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded amounted to S$179,292 (approximately US$135,079).
Legal proceedings are currently underway, Singapore Customs stated.
Underlining the gravity of the offences, the organization emphasized that engaging in the buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, possessing, or dealing with duty-unpaid goods constitutes a severe violation of the Customs Act and the GST Act.
Offenders face substantial penalties, including fines of up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded, coupled with a potential prison sentence of up to six years.
Vehicles implicated in such offences are also at risk of forfeiture.
The Ministry of Finance oversees Singapore Customs, an agency devoted to safeguarding revenue and promoting fair and secure trade practices.
The agency actively ensures compliance with customs regulations and actively collects taxes and duties on dutiable and taxable goods.
They also regulate the export of strategic goods and uphold the nation’s obligations to international trade regulations, including those imposed by the United Nations Security Council Sanctions.
The agency collaborates closely with other government bodies, industry partners, and international organizations in the pursuit of its mission and operations.
Additionally, members of the public possessing information regarding smuggling activities or the evasion of duty or GST are encouraged to report any relevant details to Customs through their online portal.
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