Singapore GST – Former Singapore Customs Officer Jailed for Fraudulently Obtaining GST Tourist Refunds

It was reported in IRAS’ website on 20 April 2018 that Ms. Pang Yeow Biah, who was a former Singapore Customs Officer, was charged for fraudulently obtaining GST tourist refunds under the electronic tourist refund scheme (“eTRS”).

Between 2012 and 2014, Pang was a Singapore Customs officer who was deployed at the GST Refund Inspection Counter at Changi Airport.  Her main duty was to process GST refund claims made by tourists leaving Singapore.  When the opportunity arose during her course of work, she would take the details of these “rejected” GST refund claims and use the eTRS system to electronically process the GST refunds into her own credit cards or credit cards that were under her control.  In addition, Pang had used the eTRS self-help kiosks to obtain the GST refunds which she was not entitled to.

The GST refunds were obtained through Pang’s misuse of two credit cards that were registered in her son’s ex-girlfriend’s name but under Pang’s control.  Pang then used the GST refunds to repay her own credit card debts.

Pang pleaded guilty to 10 charges of fraudulently obtaining GST tourist refunds amounting to $8,302.05 under section 62(1)(e) of the GST Act and three charges under section 47(1)(c) of the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (“CDSA”).

The court sentenced Pang to 15 months’ imprisonment and a penalty of $24,906.15, which is 3X  the amount of tax defrauded. Pang was sentenced to 4 weeks’ imprisonment for her CDSA offences, resulting in a total sentence of 15 months and 4 weeks’ imprisonment.

Message from Singapore Customs and IRAS

  1.   Measures such as built-in system checks are in place to identify cases to be selected for further inspection. Through data analytics, IRAS and Singapore Customs are able to detect suspicious GST refund claims and fraudulent activities.
  2. Singapore has always adopted a zero-tolerance approach towards tax fraud, money laundering, and other criminal activities. The authorities take a serious view of such criminal practices and will take swift action against any individuals and parties involved.

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