$1.4m worth of contraband cigarettes seized

A total of 14,999 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were seized by Singapore Customs on 10th and 11th of January 2014, which led to the arrest of four Malaysian men, who were sentenced to jail terms of between 34 and 36 months.

SINGAPORE - Nearly 15,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes worth $1.4 million have been seized by Singapore Customs in what is one of its largest hauls in recent years.

The bust, spanning last Friday and Saturday, led to the arrest of four Malaysian men, who were sentenced to jail terms of between 34 and 36 months on Monday.

Customs said the total duty and goods and services tax (GST) evaded exceeded $1.1 million.

The cigarettes arrived in a 40- foot container at Tanjong Pagar Scanning Station last Friday. Customs and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, in a joint statement yesterday, said their officers had found illegal cigarettes among 16 pallets of board partitions. The cartons were concealed in specially constructed hollow spaces beneath the partitions.

Customs officers then kept tabs on the pallets when they were transported to a warehouse in Soon Lee Street, in the Pioneer area. There, they saw three men - Mogan Ayawoo, 37, Kasidesan Ramansantiran, 26, and Manirajan Abimanan, 25 - move the pallets into a warehouse. The trio and their ringleader, Thiru Chelvam Krishnasamy, 33, were arrested last Saturday, and 14,999 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were seized. Thiru was sentenced to three years in jail, while the other three men were given 34 months.

This was the third-largest seizure of contraband cigarettes since 2009. The largest was in January last year, when 18,000 cartons worth more than $1.8 million were seized at Jurong Port.

Buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, possessing or dealing with duty-unpaid goods are offences under the Customs Act and the GST Act. Offenders can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded and/or jailed for up to six years.

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