Mr Shadadpuri Jerome Dasigao (“Jerome”) and Miss Naguit Jennifer Cumadre (“Jennifer), both citizens of the Philippines, were found guilty of tourist refund fraud.
Jerome pleaded guilty to seven charges of forging receipts and generating false electronic tourist refund scheme (“eTRS”) tickets to claim GST refund of $14,376.56 via the eTRS.
Jennifer pleaded guilty to one charge of presenting false receipts and eTRS tickets in order to claim GST refund of $2,043.87 on jewellery that were not purchased by her.
They were found guilty of making false GST claims at court today. Jerome was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment and a penalty of $43,129.68, which is three times of the amount of tax defrauded. Jennifer was ordered to pay a penalty of $6,131.61 and a fine of $2,000 or, in default, 8 days’ imprisonment.
The Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS)
Tourists can claim GST refund on goods they have purchased and brought out of Singapore. A person who did not purchase the goods and yet sought or obtained a GST refund under the tourist refund scheme would have committed an offence under the GST Act.
The eTRS was introduced in May 2011. The eTRS system simplifies the claiming of GST refund for tourists and also allows IRAS to detect any unusual claim promptly.
Under eTRS, a 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.
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.
Fraudulent GST refund claims
Jerome was working as a customer service assistant with Goldheart Jewellery Pte Ltd’s outlet at the ION Orchard Shopping Centre. Investigations revealed that Jerome was the mastermind behind a syndicate for defrauding GST refund via the eTRS.
Between Nov 2011 and Oct 2012, Jerome gained unauthorised access to the computer system at the jewellery outlet at the ION Orchard Shopping Centre and printed hardcopy receipts of genuine transactions to generate false eTRS tickets. He also created false receipts and gave them to his Filipino accomplices so that they could make fraudulent claims for GST refunds at the airport before leaving Singapore.
As part of his scheme to convince officials into believing that the goods were indeed brought out of Singapore, Jerome also purchased fake jewellery that matched the description of jewellery printed on the receipts. In total, about $37,000 GST refunds were claimed over 20 occasions between Nov 2011 and Oct 2012 by eight of his accomplices.
He was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment and a penalty of $43,129.68, which is three times of the amount of tax defrauded.
Jennifer was one of the accomplices in Jerome’s scheme to claim GST refunds on goods that were not purchased by her. On 30 Oct 2012, Jennifer made a GST refund claim via the eTRS self-help kiosk at the Changi Airport and declared herself as the purchaser of the jewellery items. She was using the fraudulent receipts and invalid eTRS tickets from Goldheart Jewellery Pte Ltd that Jerome passed to her to make the GST refund claim. She presented the fake jewellery when her GST refund claim was identified by the computer system for physical goods inspection.
Jennifer was ordered to pay a penalty of $6,131.61, which is three times of the amount of tax defrauded, and a fine of $2,000 or, in default, 8 days’ imprisonment.
Penalties for GST Refund Fraud
The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) takes a serious view of foreigners who make false declarations to seek GST refunds under the tourist refund scheme and abuse the scheme. IRAS works closely with Singapore Customs to uncover such criminal syndicates that attempt to defraud GST. Strong enforcement measures, including prosecution, will be taken against such offenders. When convicted, offenders have to pay a penalty of three times the amount of tax refunded, and may be fined of up to $10,000 or jailed up to seven years or to both.
Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore