SINGAPORE: Five Indian nationals involved in a scheme to make false goods and services tax (GST) claims under the electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS) were sentenced to jail on Monday (Apr 24).
In all, more than 1,300 charges were brought against Karunanidhi Rajesh, 32, Waithiyalingam Karunanidhi, 61, Kothandaraman Gnanam, 29, Ramaiyan Karthikeyan, 43, and Karunanithi Saravanan, 36.
Each man faced more than 200 charges of claiming fraudulent tax refunds. Because they took the cash from the refunds out of Singapore, they also faced a total of 127 money laundering charges.
The five men made fraudulent claims of approximately S$167,253 in GST refunds since 2015 through a scheme involving jewellery they did not buy, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), Singapore Customs and Singapore Police Force said in a joint release on Monday.
As part of their scheme, they bought invoices and jewellery tags from locals who purchased the items but are not entitled to eTRS refunds.
The men then used their passports to obtain eTRS tickets from the jewellery shops.
They would match the invoices, jewellery tags and eTRS tickets to the jewellery they already owned, because these had to be presented to officers for inspection.
The men then claimed GST cash refunds at the airport using the eTRS ticket, invoice, jewellery and jewellery tag before leaving Singapore.
For their part in the scheme, Karunanidhi, Waithiyalingam, Kothandaraman, and Ramaiyan were each jailed 39 months and Karunanithi was jailed 38 months.
Each of them was also fined between S$14,000 and S$70,000 and ordered to pay a penalty of $51,952.71, triple the amount of fraudulent refund, which totalled S$17,317.57.
In their joint media release, the authorities said they take a serious view on such fraudulent GST claims and money laundering activities.
They added that, to deter GST fraud and to facilitate IRAS’ efforts in fraud detection, retailers that operate under the eTRS scheme are required to install a CCTV surveillance system on their premises to record the eTRS tickets issuance and sale process.
These retailers must also indicate prominently on each sale invoice whether or not an eTRS ticket was issued at the point of sale.