It was reported in IRAS’ website on 9 October 2017 that a research fellow, Bai Jiaming was convicted of the following GST offenses:
- Engaging the help of a tourist to claim a GST refund of $1,543.93 for a $23,600 Tiffany & Co. diamond ring (the “ring”) purchased by him; and
- Obtaining a Prada bag (the “handbag”) and the ring from the tourist after a GST refund of $1,791.87 had been claimed on the two items.
Investigations revealed that Bai colluded with his colleague, Zhang Baicheng and his colleague’s father, Zhang Yaoqun (“co-accused persons”) to carry out the GST refund fraud. Bai, the purchaser of the ring did not qualify for a GST refund under the Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (“eTRS”) as he was not a tourist and was in fact, working in Singapore. At Zhang Baicheng’s suggestion, Bai procured Zhang Yaoqun to obtain approval for a GST refund even though Zhang Yaoqun was not entitled to the said GST refund as he was not the purchaser of the ring.
On 11 Mar 2017, Bai, with a one-way air ticket to Jakarta bought on the previous day, went with Zhang Baicheng and Zhang Yaoqun to the Singapore Changi International Airport. Zhang Baicheng and Zhang Yaoqun had return air tickets for Bangkok. All three checked in at their respective ticket counters and entered the transit area. Thereafter, Zhang Yaoqun made the GST refund claim for the handbag and the ring at the transit area in Changi International Airport, Terminal 3. Zhang Yaoqun had the said handbag and ring in his possession at the time that the GST refund was approved.
After obtaining approval for a GST refund, Zhang Yaoqun gave the handbag and ring to Zhang Baicheng who in turn gave them to Bai. Bai knew that Zhang Yaoqun had obtained approval for a GST refund of $1,791.87 under the eTRS in respect of both the handbag and ring. Bai then attempted to leave the transit area with the handbag and ring and was stopped by an ICA officer for suspected misuse of a boarding pass.
Both Zhang Baicheng and Zhang Yaoqun were charged on 28 Jul 2017 for their offenses and their cases are still pending before the court.
The court sentenced Bai to a total fine of $7,000. If he defaults on payment of the fine, he will have to serve four weeks’ imprisonment.
What does this mean to you?
IRAS takes a serious view of anyone who makes false declarations to seek GST refunds under the tourist refund scheme and abuses the scheme. Under the GST Regulation, a person commits an offense for receiving goods from a tourist, directly or indirectly, knowing that the tourist has obtained approval for the refund. The person also commits an offense for engaging another person to seek or obtain an approval for a refund under the tourist refund scheme. Offenders shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 and in default of payment to an imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months.
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