It was reported in the IRAS’ website on 7 May 2014 that through IRAS’ investigation by acting on a tip-off, Juliana bte Abu Bakar (“Juliana”), a former conveyancing secretary with a law firm from June to 8 November 2012, was found guilty of three charges of using counterfeit stamp certificates, and was sentenced to six weeks’ jail for each charge, with two of the sentences to run concurrently. Another two charges, one for using a counterfeit stamp certificate and another for counterfeiting a stamp certificate, were taken into consideration for the purposes of sentencing.
Investigations revealed that Juliana forged three stamp certificates and handed them over as genuine stamp certificates to the banks offering mortgage loans for the transacted properties. When processing property conveyance transactions, Juliana would ask the property buyers to hand over the amount of stamp duty in cheque with the payee’s details left blank, explaining that she would fill in the payee’s name later .
When Juliana received the cheques from the buyers, she filled in her own name as the payee instead, and deposited these cheques into her personal bank account. She then used the unlawfully-gained funds to pay off her personal debts and sometime later, she would pay the stamp duty that she had misappropriated and the late payment penalties to IRAS.
Juliana was aware that once the banks approve the mortgage loan, the property conveyancing process would be complete. The buyers would not be aware that their money had not been used to pay the stamp duty to IRAS on time as originally intended.
It is a serious offence for anyone to deliberately forge stamp certificates and knowingly misrepresent counterfeit “certificates” as genuine. He/she may face penalties of up to $10,000 and/or up to three years’ imprisonment. Penalties of up to four times the stamp duty payable may also be imposed for late or non-stamping of documents.
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