Repeat offender fined S $ 16 million and jailed for smuggling cigarettes

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SINGAPORE: A Singaporean has been fined S $ 16 million and jailed for 39 months for unpaid cigarette smuggling offenses, Singapore Customs said Thursday (July 1st).

Loh Hu Seong was extradited from Malaysia and placed in Singapore customs custody on January 15 this year for his latest crimes.

As a repeat offender, Singapore Customs said the 58-year-old was given an “increased sentence” for his current case.

Loh was sentenced in state courts on June 25 to 39 months in prison and fined S $ 16,001,500 for dealing with unpaid cigarettes under the Customs Act and for participating in an association criminals aiming to deal with unpaid cigarettes under the Criminal Code. .

As Loh did not pay the fine, Singapore Customs said he would serve an additional 25 months and one day in jail by default.

CIGARETTES RECESSED IN EXCAVATOR PARTS

Investigations revealed that in September 2018, Loh conspired with a stranger and a Malaysian to smuggle unpaid cigarettes from Malaysia to Singapore.

He was promised payments of between S $ 1,000 and S $ 2,000 for each successful expedition.

Loh and the Malaysian man then entered Singapore on September 14, 2018 to stock up on excavator parts to use as cover charges to conceal the unpaid cigarettes.

At the same time, they also searched for warehouses, and Loh eventually rented the Tuas South Street 1 industrial unit for dismantling and collecting the cigarettes. The investigation is ongoing for the Malaysian man, Singapore Customs said.

Singapore Customs then conducted an operation on November 7, 2018 at an industrial unit in Tuas South Street 1, which discovered 5,428 cartridges and 25 packs of unpaid cigarettes concealed in recycled excavator arms imported from Malaysia.

Singapore Customs added that five men were subsequently arrested and treated separately.

Unpaid cigarettes concealed in the beam of an excavator arm. (Photo: Singapore Customs)

The total customs duties and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded were approximately S $ 514,900 and S $ 37,510, respectively.

For his role in this case, Loh was convicted of an offense under the Customs Act for handling non-personalized goods. Another charge relating to the evaded GST on unpaid cigarettes was considered in the sentencing.

Investigations also revealed that between September and October 2018, Loh engaged in a criminal conspiracy with a Singaporean.

Loh bought the shovel arms from the Singapore man and informed him that holes were needed in the shovel arms to conceal the unpaid cigarettes.

The Singaporean man then had a worker drill holes in the arms of the shovel and place brackets with screws in the corners to cover the hidden spaces.

For his role in this scheme, Loh was convicted of a Criminal Code offense for engaging in a criminal conspiracy to deal with unpaid cigarettes. Legal proceedings against the Singaporean man are ongoing.

ALREADY CONDEMNED IN 2016

Loh had previously been convicted on September 6, 2016 and sentenced to 30 months in prison for processing unpaid cigarettes with duty and GST amounting to approximately S $ 136,570 and S $ 13,740, respectively.

Singapore’s Deputy Director General of Customs (Intelligence and Investigations) Yeo Sew Meng said the prison sentence and fine recalled the heavy penalties for repeat offenders.

“Singapore Customs will not relax our efforts to crack down on cigarette smuggling activities… Those considering illegal cigarette activities should think carefully about the consequences when caught,” he added.

Buying, selling, transporting, delivering, storing, keeping, possessing or dealing with unpaid goods are serious offenses under the Customs Act and the GST Act.

Violators can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded and / or jail time of up to six years.

Repeat offenders who are caught with more than 2 kg of tobacco products will also face a mandatory jail sentence.


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