Singapore: 5 foreigners arrested for posing as tourists and claiming GST refund

The men will be charged today and each of them is likely to face more than 200 charges.

Picture for representation
Passengers pass check-in counters at Singapore's Changi Airport Terminal One in Singapore. Reuters

Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) arrested five foreigners on Wednesday from Changi airport, after they were found being involved in a suspected Goods and Services Tax (GST) fraud. According to reports, IRAS caught the detainees red-handed at the airport for claiming tax refunds of more than $160,000 for jewellery they did not purchase.

The miscreants brought jewellery invoices from local customers disguised as tourists last May and then claimed the refunds at the airport after obtaining tickets by using the port of departure invoices and their passports under the electronic tourist refund scheme (eTRS).

According to Channel News Asia, eTRS enables only tourists, who have spent 365 days or less in Singapore in the last two years before the date of purchase and not have been employed in the country for six months before the purchase, to evade the GST. However, foreigners workers, having a job here are excluded from the scheme.

The men will be charged on Thursday and each of them is likely to face more than 200 charges. If convicted they can face jail terms of up to seven years and fine up to S$10,000.

IRAS and Singapore Customs, in a joint a statement, said on Wednesday that they take the violation of GST laws very seriously and will not hesitate to take stern action against the wrongdoers.