Unpaid Cigarettes From Indonesia Smuggled Through Jurong Fishing Port Concealed With Fish, S’porean Man Jailed Over 26 Months – Mothership.SG

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A 24-year-old Singaporean, Muhammad Rifa’ie Bin Mazlan, was sentenced in state courts on October 11 to 26 months in prison for participating in a conspiracy to sell unpaid cigarettes.

In addition, he was sentenced to one month and 18 days in prison for possession and use of property reasonably suspected to be the benefit of criminal conduct.

Rifa’ie pleaded guilty to one charge under the Customs Act and two counts under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Forfeiture of Benefits) Act (CDSA ).

Another similar charge of participating in a conspiracy to sell unpaid cigarettes was considered at sentencing.

Taken from parking lot

On April 22, 2021, Singapore customs officers mounted an operation in a multi-storey car park near Kim Keat Court, where they observed a 31-year-old Singaporean man, Andy Lau Gim Guan, approach a truck loaded with cardboard boxes and polystyrene boxes.

The officers intervened to carry out a check and discovered 1,420 cartons of unpaid cigarettes in the boxes.

Andy was taken into custody and all of the unpaid cigarettes and the truck were seized.

The total customs duties and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded were approximately S$194,020 and S$14,570 respectively.

Operating mode

Investigations revealed that Rifa’ie hired and paid Andy and two other men – a Singaporean, Abdul Rahim Bin Ali, 60, and an Indonesian, Jasni Bin Kasim, 43 – to smuggle, collect and deliver cigarettes not paid.

Rifa’ie placed unpaid orders for cigarettes with an unknown Indonesian.

He then instructed Jasni, the captain of an Indonesian fishing vessel, to smuggle the cigarettes from Indonesia to Singapore via Jurong fishing port by packing them in polystyrene boxes and fiber containers, which were concealed with a legitimate container of fish to avoid detection.

After Jasni unloaded the containers with the unpaid cigarettes from the ship at the quayside of Jurong fishing port, Rifa’ie hired Abdul to pick them up from the quayside and load them onto the truck driven by Andy.

Andy would then leave the fishing port of Jurong and deliver the unpaid cigarettes to customers in Rifa’ie.

Singapore Customs then referred the case against Rifa’ie to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the Singapore Police Force for investigation.

Unrecorded fund transfers

DAC investigations showed that Rifa’ie had received wire transfers totaling S$8,200 to his bank account between April 30 and May 1, 2021 from another person.

During the same period, Rifa’ie also made transfers in the amount of S$4,000 to the same person’s bank account.

Rifa’ie was unable to provide a satisfactory account of the possession and use of these funds.

Sentenced

The cases against Andy, Jasni and Abdul were handled separately.

Andy was sentenced to 24 months in prison for dealing in unpaid cigarettes, a fine of S$1,000 for storing unpaid cigarettes and a fine of S$1,500 for driving without a licence.

Jasni was sentenced to 24 months in prison for importing unpaid cigarettes.

Abdul was sentenced to 26 months and three weeks in prison for possessing, storing and loading unpaid cigarettes and fined S$1,000 for driving without a license.

Penalties

Buying, selling, transporting, delivering, storing, keeping, possessing or dealing in duty-paid goods are serious offenses under the Customs Act and the GST Act, said Singapore Customs.

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

Vehicles used to commit these offenses are also subject to confiscation.

Members of the public with information about smuggling activities or duty evasion or GST can call the Singapore Customs Hotline at 1800-2330000 or email [email protected] to report these illegal activities.

The offense of possessing or using property which may reasonably be suspected to be the benefit of criminal conduct and not satisfactorily accounting for the manner approached property, is liable to imprisonment for up to three years, a fine of up to S$150,000, or both.

All photos via Singapore Customs

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