SINGAPORE: A former company director was on Monday fined S$1.95 million for importing duty-unpaid liquor.
Qi Shuai, 28, pleaded guilty to six charges of importing, possessing and dealing in duty-unpaid beer and rice wine.
Qi, who was the director of wholesale trading company Tita Logistics, also pleaded guilty to one charge of unauthorised breaking of a Singapore Customs seal. Six more charges were taken into consideration in the sentencing.
The total duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded on the 28,406 bottles and 13,193 cans of duty-unpaid beer and 9,165 bottles of duty-unpaid rice wine exceeded S$198,000.
Singapore Customs began investigations into the company in May 2012.
A container of goods imported by Qi, declared as soft drinks, instant noodles and vinegar, arrived at the Pasir Panjang Terminal on May 26, 2012, and was targeted by Singapore Customs officers for sealing to facilitate further checks on the goods.
Two days later, when Qi did not apply for customs supervision to unstuff the sealed container, Singapore Customs officers proceeded to his company for an on-site inspection.
They found the customs seal placed on the container broken and the goods in the container removed.
The officers searched the company premises and seized a total of 15,780 bottles and 8,448 cans of duty-unpaid beer, and 1,500 bottles of duty-unpaid rice wine, which had been unloaded from the container.
They also seized another 1,766 bottles and 4,025 cans of duty-unpaid beer and 120 bottles of duty-unpaid rice wine, as Qi could not produce documents to show that duty and GST for these goods had been paid.
On June 5, 2012, Singapore Customs officers checked another consignment of goods imported by Qi, which was declared as soft drinks, seasoning and seasoning wine. When the officers opened the container, 750 bottles of duty-unpaid rice wine were found instead.
Further investigations revealed that Qi had sold 10,860 bottles and 720 cans of duty-unpaid beer and 6,795 bottles of duty-unpaid rice wine between December 2011 and May 2012. Qi could not produce documents to show that duty and GST were paid for the liquor sold.
If he cannot pay his S$1.95 million fine, Qi would be jailed for 29 months and three weeks.
Under the Customs Act and the GST Act, importing, buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, having in possession or dealing with duty-unpaid goods are serious offences.
Offenders can be fined up to 20 times the amount of duty and GST evaded for duty unpaid goods involving beer or wines.
It is also an offence for anyone who does not have prior permission of Singapore Customs, to tamper with, or remove any lock, or seal used to seal a container. - CNA/ac
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