Singapore PR Found Guilty of Tourist Refund Fraud

15 Jan 2016

Zheng Da Fei (郑大飞), a Singapore Permanent Resident ("PR"), was found guilty of engaging the help of a tourist to claim GST refund under the Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme ("eTRS")i for a luxury item purchased by his wife. The court sentenced Zheng Da Fei to a fine of $4,500 or, in default, three weeks’ imprisonment.

Facts of the Case

In May 2014, Zheng Da Fei approached a Chinese National tourist at the Singapore Changi Airport for assistance to claim a refund of the GST amounting to $2,911.21 from the purchase price of $44,500, for the watch bought by Zheng Da Fei’s wife in a store at Orchard Road.

Zheng Da Fei knew that, as Singapore PRs, neither he nor his wife was entitled to the GST refund. He was caught by the Singapore Customs officers who detected the fraudulent tourist refund claim at the airport.

Penalties for Tourist Refund Fraud

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) takes a serious view of any one who makes false declarations to seek GST refunds under the tourist refund scheme and abuse the scheme. IRAS works closely with Singapore Customs to uncover any attempt to defraud GST.

A person who engages another person to seek or obtain an approval for a refund under the tourist refund scheme would have committed an offence under the GST Act. Offenders shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 and in default of payment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months. 

About the Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS)

The eTRS is available only to tourists to claim GST refund on goods they have purchased and brought out of Singapore. The tourist receives a receipt of goods purchased and an eTRS ticket when he buys goods from a GST-registered retailer participating in eTRS. The tourist then uses the eTRS ticket or the credit card with which he purchased the goods to make a GST refund claim via the eTRS self-help kiosk at the Changi airport. Alternatively, the tourist can opt for cash refund at the Central Refund Counter in the Departure Transit Lounge.

As a control measure, physical inspection of the goods may be carried out at the GST refund counter by Singapore Customs officers before a GST refund claim is approved.

Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore