Singapore Customs arrests two men with 4,150 cigarette cartons, evading nearly half-a-million dollars in duties and taxes

Singapore Customs has released information about two Singaporean men, aged 19 and 26, who were caught with 4,150 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes. The duties and taxes they tried to dodge amounted to nearly half-a-million Singapore dollars, or SGD444,216, to be precise.

The two men were arrested and their vans were seized. Picture courtesy: Singapore Customs

Details of the arrest, which took place a few days ago, have been given in a Singapore government media release.

The cigarette bust came under Singapore Customs’ stepped-up drive to deter tax evasion.

The two were caught when Singapore Customs officers spotted, near Tuas Bay Close, a man opening the side compartment of a van containing some bulky black objects. The officers checked the van and uncovered 2,072 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes. The first arrest was followed by a second, when another man approached the van.

These bulky black objects first raised Customs officers' suspicion. Picture courtesy: Singapore Customs

“Investigations revealed that the first man was allegedly engaged by the second man to collect the van at Tuas Bay Close to deliver the duty-unpaid cigarettes,” said the media release.

A follow-up operation led to a second van at Tuas Avenue 2, and the Singapore Customs officers found another haul of 2,078 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes.

Both the vans and all the cartons were seized. “The total duty and GST evaded amounted to about SGD407,530 and SGD36,686 respectively. Investigations are ongoing,” said the release.

Cigarette cartons hidden in black plastic. Picture courtesy: Singapore Customs

In its media release, the Singapore government issued some warnings: “Buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, possessing or dealing with duty-unpaid goods are serious 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. Vehicles used in the commission of such offences are also liable to be forfeited.

One of the two seized vans. Picture courtesy: Singapore Customs

“Members of public with information on smuggling activities or evasion of duty or GST can call the Singapore Customs hotline on 1800-2330000 or email to report these illegal activities.”