Businessman jailed for GST refund scam

A businessman who masterminded a scam to claim goods and services tax (GST) refunds he was not entitled to was sentenced to 15 months in prison on Thursday.

Chia Puay Yeoh, 50, colluded with three accomplices to defraud the taxman of more than S$950,000.

He was also ordered to pay a penalty of just over S$1.2 million - the equivalent of three times the amount involved in the 45 charges he pleaded guilty to. Some 77 other charges against him were taken into consideration.

Chia had executed his scheme through four companies he was involved in - Shi Lin Enterprise, Keat Siang Hang, World Resources Organisation and Kapin Enterprise - and another six run by his accomplices, between January 2005 and March 2007.

Six of these 10 entities were shell companies without any business transactions.

He shared his modus operandi with his accomplices and would help to inflate or fabricate the GST returns filed, largely based on the refund amount that was desired.

On top of a penalty amounting to three times the tax undercharged, those convicted of intentionally evading or helping others to evade tax, by filing false GST returns, can be jailed for up to seven years and fined up to S$10,000 on each charge.

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore said in a statement that it is reviewing the case against Chia's accomplices and that they will be dealt with appropriately.

The biggest GST fraud case to date involved almost S$5.7 million in undercharged tax. In August 2010, businessman Mahesh Sukhram Daswani, then 43, was jailed for 54 months and ordered to pay a penalty of almost S$17.1 million.

This article was first published on July 12, 2014.
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