'Smoking out' illegal cigarette dealers

'Smoking out' illegal cigarette dealers
Some of the 660 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes found at a Corporation Drive HDB flat last month.

HOE PEI SHAN Publication: ST^ST Date: Wednesday, 29 October 2014 Page: B4 Picture Caption: Some of the 660 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes found at a Corporation Drive HDB flat last month. Singapore Customs says 37 people were caught storing contraband cigarettes in their HDB flats in the first nine months this year, and selling these duty-unpaid cigarettes to neighbourhood residents. (C) Singapore Press Holdings Limited

In the first nine months of this year, 37 people were caught storing contraband cigarettes in their HDB flats and selling these duty-unpaid cigarettes to neighbourhood residents.

Singapore Customs said in a statement yesterday that it has since stepped up its enforcement efforts in the heartland to clamp down on such illegal activities.

During a raid at a Corporation Drive flat last month, enforcement officers recovered 660 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes and arrested the flat- owner, 51-year-old Sujono Kassan.

Investigations revealed that the Singaporean had been selling cigarettes worth some $7,000 in unpaid duty and Goods and Services Taxes to residents in his neighbourhood.

He was sentenced last Thursday to three months in jail and fined $3,000.

"Singapore Customs will not let up on our enforcement efforts in HDB estates," said Mr Lim Guan Cheong, head of suppression and community engagement at Singapore Customs.

"We urge members of the public to contact Singapore Customs if they come across illegal cigarette activities in their housing estate. By doing so, they can help to keep their neighbourhood free of such illegal activities."

Offenders caught buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, possessing or dealing with duty-unpaid goods are liable to a fine of up to 40 times the amount of duty evaded, and/or a maximum of six years in prison.

The minimum court fines for first-time and repeat offenders of tobacco-related offences are $2,000 and $4,000, respectively.

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

HOE PEI SHAN


This article was first published on October 29, 2014.
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