Six charged over GST tourist refund fraud

Six charged over GST tourist refund fraud
Mohamed Yusof Abdul Rahman, former higher custom officer who faces 132 charges, was accused of accepting a total of $11,400 in bribes on 29 occasions and helping the four evade tax by fraudulently claiming a total of $493,859 in GST refunds.

Six men were charged in court yesterday over a case in which around $570,000 in goods and services tax (GST) tourist refunds was fraudulently claimed.

The scam involved four Indian nationals - three of whom allegedly gave cash bribes to a Customs officer in return for him making lax checks on jewellery and endorsing their electronic tourist refund scheme tickets.

These were given to them by a goldsmith worker whom they also allegedly bribed.

Former higher Customs officer Mohamed Yusof Abdul Rahman, 67, faces 132 charges while Lim Pheck Aun, 50, a sales executive at Soon Huat Goldsmith, faces 32. Both are Singaporeans.

The Indian nationals - Sundar Paneer Selvam, 46, Baskaran Uthirapathy, 28, Pounraj Natarajan, 25, and Gobi Raman, 31 - face between 35 and 75 charges each. All four are accused of taking the benefits of their criminal conduct, ranging from $56,000 to $89,000, out of Singapore.

Selvam and Natarajan allegedly gave a few hundred dollars to Mohamed Yusof each time he made lax checks and approved their GST refunds. Selvam is also accused of giving Lim seven bottles of Dom liquor as well as $400 to generate the electronic tourist refund scheme tickets for GST claims.

On some occasions, the pair were allegedly helped by Uthirapathy.

Mohamed Yusof is accused of accepting a total of $11,400 in bribes on 29 occasions and helping the four evade tax by fraudulently claiming a total of $493,859 in GST refunds between February last year and January this year.

Lim, who was charged with nine counts of corruption, is also said to have helped Selvam four times and Uthirapathy 19 times to make false entries into the electronic tourist refund scheme system, resulting in the refund tickets being issued.

Mohamed Yusof, represented by Mr Ahmad Nizam Abbas, will be back in court on Nov 6 while the rest, who indicated their intention to plead guilty, will appear next Thursday.

elena@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Sep 26, 2014.
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