A*Star research fellow fined $7,000 for GST refund fraud for Tiffany ring and Prada bag

People walk by at the transit area of Changi Airport’s Terminal Two in Singapore October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su

An A*Star research fellow who sought the help of a colleague and the colleague’s father to commit two goods and services tax (GST) offences was fined $7,000 on Monday (9 October).

Bai Jiaming, 31, a Chinese national, claimed a GST refund of $1,543.93 for a $23,600 Tiffany diamond ring bought by him through the help of Zhang Yaoqun, the 62-year-old father of his colleague Zhang Baicheng, 33. He was looking at some rings for the purpose of proposing to his girlfriend.

Bai also received a Prada bag, which was bought earlier by the younger Zhang, and the ring from the older Zhang after a GST refund of $1,791.87 had been claimed on the two items. As he was not a tourist, Bai did not qualify for the GST refund. Similarly, the older Zhang was not entitled to the same refund as he was not the buyer of the ring. Bai pleaded guilty to the two GST offences in the State Courts last Friday.

On 11 March 2017, Bai went with the Zhangs, who are also Chinese nationals, to Changi International Airport. Bai had bought a one-way air ticket to Jakarta while the Zhangs had return air tickets for Bangkok. The trio checked in and entered the airport transit area.

The older Zhang, who had the handbag and the ring with him, made the GST refund claim for the two items at the transit area in Terminal 3. After getting approval for the refund, which was to be credited to his son’s credit card, the older Zhang passed the handbag and the ring to his son who then gave them to Bai.

Bai tried to leave the transit area with the handbag and the ring and was stopped by an officer from the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore for suspected misuse of a boarding pass. Singapore Customs was notified of the incident and it revoked the approval for the refund on the same day.

An illustration of the GST tourist refund fraud involving three China nationals on 11 March 2017. Photo: Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS)

According to the statement of facts, Bai and the Zhangs later colluded to give false information to Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore investigators. They falsely stated to the investigators that the younger Zhang was the buyer of the ring.

But Bai admitted that he had lied after he was shown a deposit slip, invoice and video footage taken from Tiffany that showed he was the buyer of the ring. Bai and the younger Zhang also colluded to create a false payment trail in the latter’s bank statement to show that Zhang was the buyer of the ring.

The Zhangs were charged on 28 July for their offences and their cases are still pending. Bai was liable to be fined up to $5,000 and in default of payment to face a maximum jail term of six months for each GST offence.