A-G sues liquor firm for $4.4m in tariffs

The Attorney-General is seeking to recover $4.4 million in payable tariffs, which had been exempted through alleged misrepresentation, from a supplier of liquor to diplomatic offices here.

Mr Giorgio Ferrari, 44, an Italian who runs a Singapore-registered company of the same name, had allegedly told Customs for 33 months from 2005 that various diplomatic missions had ordered a total of 277,630 litres of alcohol when this was not the case.

Diplomatic missions are exempted from paying customs and excise duties and are entitled to relief on goods and services tax (GST) for goods for their personal or official use in Singapore.

Giorgio Ferrari, which imports and distributes various brands of liquor, began supplying liquor to embassies and missions in 2002, according to court documents.

Mr Ferrari will contest the claims and file defence papers, his lawyer, Ms Foo Soon Yien, from Bernard and Rada Law Corporation, said yesterday.

A High Court pre-trial conference is due later this month.

As managing director, Mr Ferrari received and processed requests for alcohol lists from the missions. He would then forward the purchase order forms to agents with instructions to apply for tariff and GST exemption on behalf of the mission.

These agents would then apply to Customs for exemption permits, allowing release of the alcohol from licensed warehouses without payment of duty or GST.

Mr Ferrari is alleged to have altered the purchase order forms to increase the amount ordered without the missions' knowledge and inserted orders for alcohol brands which they did not request. He also allegedly forged purchase order forms on about 20 occasions.

The effect was to dupe Customs into issuing tariff exemption permits for a total of 277,630 litres of alcohol which did not end up with the missions.

In September 2009, Mr Ferrari pleaded guilty to 10 charges of fraudulently evading duties and GST in relation to faked applications for exemption permits linked to the current High Court case.

Another 178 charges were taken into consideration with his consent for the purposes of sentencing then. He paid a S$2.52 million fine imposed by a district court.

This article was first published on JUNE 3, 2014.
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