Singapore: Ex-customs woman officer gets 15 months jail term for GST refund fraud at Changi Airport

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Woman arrested (Representational picture ) Pixabay

A former woman customs officer was found guilty of fraudulently obtaining Goods and Services Tax (GST) refunds and sentenced to 15 months of imprisonment on Friday, April 20.

Singapore customs department the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) and the local police released a joint statement on Friday, where they said that the accused, Pang Yeow Biah, pleaded guilty to 10 charges of fraudulent refunds involving about S$8,300.

Reports said the accused committed the crime between 2012 and 2014, when she was in-charge of processing claims made by tourists departing from Singapore's Changi Airport.

The concerned authority stated that when Pang received an opportunity, she would take the details of these rejected GST refund claims and use the electronic tourist refund scheme ("eTRS") to process the GST refunds into their credit cards.

Court documents showed that the 61-year-old accused not only used her office computer for this fraud, she also used eTRS self-help kiosks as well as the computers of four co-workers when they were not at their place or busy elsewhere.

She transferred the amount to two different credit cards, which were registered in the name of her son's ex-girlfriend and the other one, a Malaysia-based card that was used by the same ex-girlfriend. Later she used the money to balance her own credit card expenses. Pang also asked the girl to purchase air tickets on her behalf by using the refunds.

The accused was ordered to pay a fine of S$24,906.15, which is three times more than the amount of tax defrauded.

The joint statement added that built-in system checks to identify cases and thorough data analytics of IRAS and Singapore Customs are able to detect suspicious GST refund claims and the fraud.

Earlier in February, a 34-year-old man, Li Xiangqing, another former customs officer was convicted for fraudulently obtaining Goods and Services Tax ("GST") tourist refunds under the eTRS.

The man was charged under section 62(1)(e) of the GST Act and pleaded guilty to 10 charges of the fraud amounting to $30,761.63. The court sentenced him to a total of 18 months' imprisonment and a penalty of $92,284.89,