Singapore: 34-year-old customs officer to face 18 months' jail for GST fraud

Representational image of Singapore man arrested Pixabay

Singapore Customs and Inland Revenue Authority (IRAS) jointly said on Friday that a former customs officer, previously in chat processing Goods and Services Tax (GST) refund claims made by tourists at Changi Airport, has been found guilty for GST fraud. Li Xiangqing was sentenced to 18-months of jail and a fine.

Reports said the 34-year-old officer has misappropriated $52,441.17 between November 2011 and August 2012. Li pleaded guilty to 10 charges of fraudulently obtaining GST refunds amounting to S$30,761.63. He will pay a fine of $92,284.89.

When Li was stationed at the GST Refund Inspection Counter at Changi Airport, he applied a method to reject some tourists' claims for GST refunds.

The accused also used to retain the Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS) ticket of the tourists. While keeping a track on passenger traffic, whenever Li found the traffic was going down, he would then use the details to electronically process the GST refunds into his or his friend's credit card.

Earlier, Li convinced his friend to take a credit card and then used it for receiving the fraudulent GST refunds. Later receiving the money, Li divided the amount into four credit cards, that owned by him.

During the court hearing, IRAS Senior Tax Prosecutor Norman Teo has urged to provide 20 months' jail to the accused, as he disrespected his position of being a customs officer and committed fraud against a public organisation.

On the other hand, Li's lawyer Lee Chin Seon said that his client has returned the entire amount which he kept illegally with him.

During the sentencing, District Judge Ong Luan Tze said that the accused had embarked on a carefully planned enterprise to defraud the state.

The convict will be facing his imprisonment from February 23. Under the Singapore crime law for the wrongdoings what Li did, he could have sentenced to seven years in jail.