Three Indian nationals were fined today while cases against two others are pending for making fraudulent claims under the electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS) of Singapore's Goods and Services Tax.
Shanmugam Sampathkumar, 33, Murugesan Saravanan, 42, and 49-year-old Arumugam Chelladurai are Indian nationals.
The fourth employee - Pang Wei Koon, 46, is from Malaysia.
Arumugam, 33, who is also a Singapore permanent resident, was fined SGD 12,000 after pleading guilty to eight charges under the GST (General) Regulations, The Straits Times reported.
Shanmugam, who pleaded guilty to two charges, was fined SGD 3,000, while Pang was fined SGD 1,500 after pleading guilty to one charge.
District Judge Adam Nakhoda sentenced Saravanan to a fine of SGD 6,000 after he admitted to four charges.
Investigations showed that the syndicate made more than SGD 167,000 in fraudulent GST tourist refund claims by negotiating and buy invoices from actual customers of jewellery store.
The four men, who committed the offences in 2015 and 2016, worked for Abiraame Jewellers in Singapore's Little India precinct.
Tax prosecutor Rajiv Rai, from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), told the court on Tuesday that the eTRS process begins when a tourist buys an item from a participating GST-registered retailer.
To make a GST refund claim under the scheme, the tourist must have items, including the invoice of the goods purchased and the eTRS refund ticket issued by the retailer.
The tourist can then obtain the GST refund at the airport after using either the eTRS self-help kiosk or by approaching a Singapore Customs officer at an inspection counter.
Describing how the scam was carried out, Rai said the claimants would loiter in and around jewellery stores to try to obtain invoices from actual customers.
He added: "Once a customer agreed to sell or give the invoice, a claimant would give his passport and embarkation card... to an employee of (Abiraame Jewellers) for the purposes of making an application for a GST refund under the claimant''s passport number.
"The employee would enter the details of the claimant and the jewellery purchased into the eTRS system," the report said.
The employee would then print an eTRS refund ticket for the claimant to unlawfully obtain at the airport GST refunds which they were not entitled to.
The cases involving three other men, Singaporean Palaniappan Ramanathan, 41, and Indian nationals Manickavasagam Saravanan, also 41, and Kulamani Ganesan, 31, are still pending.
If convicted, each of them face a fine of SGD 5,000.
In a statement on Tuesday, IRAS said that it will "not hesitate to take stern enforcement actions against any individuals who commit the offence of willful intent to make a false GST refund claim or, assist any other person to make false claims".
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