Tag Archives: eTRS

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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Singapore GST – Research Fellow Convicted of GST Tourist Refund Fraud

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.

If you have any questions regarding the above, contact support@whm-consulting.com

Singapore GST – GST Tax Changes on Budget 2017

It was announced in the Budget 2017 that with effect from 1 July 2017, the GST Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) will be withdrawn for tourists who are departing by the international cruise from the cruise terminals.

Tourists who are departing by the international cruise from the cruise terminals and have made purchases before 1 July 2017 have until 31 August 2017 claim the refunds on such purchases.

The eTRS facilities at the cruise terminals will be removed after 31 Aug 2017.

What does this mean to the retailers?

Retailers who continue to issue the tickets on or after 1 July 2017 will be committing an offense under the GST (General) Regulations and can be penalized.

IRAS has updated the following e-Tax Guides on 22 Feb 2017 accordingly.

–   GST: Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS)
–  GST: Guide for Visitors on Tourist Refund Scheme
  GST: Guide for Retailers participating in Tourist Refund Scheme

If you have any questions, contact us at support@whm-consulting.com.

Singapore GST – 5 Tourists were arrested for Fraudulent GST Refund Claims

It was reported in the IRAS’ website on 2 February 2017 that 5 foreign individuals were arrested on 1 February 2017 by IRAS’ investigators for engaging in a conspiracy to claim fraudulent GST refunds under the electronic tourist refund scheme (“eTRS“). The eTRS claims were made for jewelry that the accused persons did not personally purchase.

This was the result of a joint operation by IRAS and Singapore Customs on 27 May 2016 where the accused persons were caught red-handed making fraudulent GST refund claims at Changi Airport. They will be charged in court and each of these accused persons will face over 200 charges of engaging in a conspiracy to claim fraudulent GST refunds amounting to approximately $167,253.

Modus Operandi of GST Refund Claim Fraud

In a GST refund claim fraud scenario, the accused person, masquerading as a “tourist” would pay local customers (who are not entitled to the eTRS refund) for their jewelry invoices. With these invoices and using his passport, the “tourist” would then obtain eTRS tickets from the respective shops and, subsequently claim eTRS GST cash refunds at a port of departure.

What does this mean to you?

IRAS takes a serious view on such fraudulent GST refund claims and will not hesitate to take stern enforcement action against these individuals and any persons assisting them.

Anyone who commits the offense of willful intent to make a false GST refund claim or, assist any other person to make such false claim faces a penalty of up to 3 times the amount of refund wrongfully claimed and a fine not exceeding $10,000, and/or imprisonment of up to 7 years.

If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact support@whm-consulting.com