A year's jail and $217,000 fine for 78-year-old possessing duty-unpaid cigarettes

A year's jail and $217,000 fine for 78-year-old possessing duty-unpaid cigarettes

His underhanded plan to get rich not only went up in smoke, but also ended up with him being slapped with a hefty fine.

Sng Jim Chua pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing 20,120 sticks of duty unpaid cigarettes.

Yesterday, the 78-year-old was sentenced to 12 months' jail and slapped with a fine of $217,000.

Before Judge Chay Yuen Fatt passed his sentence in a state court, Sng told the judge in Hokkien: "I'm very old and I have many mental problems. I assure you that I'll not be coming back to court again."

To which Judge Chay shot an immediate reply: "I hope so. At your age, you don't have 12 months to waste."

It all started to go wrong for Sng on Oct 16, 2013.

Together with another accused, Sng went to a carpark at Bukit Batok West Avenue 6 to receive an illegal delivery of cigarettes.

They did not know that they were being watched by a Singapore Customs surveillance team.

A taxi carrying the shipment arrived after 11pm with Sng's 50 cartons of assorted duty unpaid cigarettes.

A male taxi passenger started to unload brown bags from the cab's rear passenger seat.

BUSTED

The Customs officers then moved in.

All three, including the cabby, were arrested. However, the passenger escaped.

At Sng's home nearby, another 41 cartons and 100 20-cigarette packs with unpaid duty were found.

Court documents showed that Sng had bought the cigarettes for $25 a carton and kept them in his flat. He had intended to sell each carton for between $28 and $30.

A carton with 10 packets of duty paid premium cigarettes would retail for about $130.

From 2010 to 2012, Sng was jailed three times, all for offences related to infringements of the Customs Act.

The duty payable for Sng's cigarettes found in the taxi was $3,520, while the excise duty on the illegal cigarettes found at his home amounted to about $3,675. Two other charges were also taken into consideration.

It is not known if he paid the fine.

This article was published on May 8 in The New Paper.

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