A former Singapore Customs officer was sentenced on Friday (20 April) to 15 months and four weeks of jail and a penalty of $24,906.15 for fraudulently obtaining Goods and Service Tax (GST) tourist refunds.
Pang Yeow Biah, 61, pleaded guilty in the State Courts to 10 charges of fraudulently obtaining $8,302.05 in GST tourist refunds. She also pleaded guilty to three counts of transferring the benefits of criminal conduct for using some of the funds to offset her credit card expenses. Another 33 similar charges were stood down.
At the time of the offences between 2012 and 2014, Pang was a Singapore Customs officer at the GST Refund Inspection Counter at Changi Airport. She was tasked with processing GST refund claims by tourists leaving Singapore.
Pang would reject some of the tourists’ claims and retain the supporting documents. She would then take the details of the ‘rejected’ GST refund claims and electronically process the GST refunds into her own credit cards or credit cards that were under her control.
She processed the claims at the airport through self-help kiosks, through her own computer, or through the computers of colleagues who left them unattended.
The offences were discovered when the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore detected suspicious GST refund claims approved by Singapore Customs officers.
Pang claimed a total of $16,015.86 through the fraudulent refunds.
The prosecution sought a jail term of at least 15 months saying that Pang used various computer terminals and the self-help kiosks in order to disguise the fraudulent activity. The offences were also committed over a span of two years.
Pang has since made full restitution.
She has also asked to defer serving her sentence until 18 May.
Anyone convicted of wilful intent to obtain fraudulent GST refunds shall be required to pay a penalty of up to three times the amount of refund wrongfully obtained, and a fine not exceeding $10,000, and/or imprisonment of up to seven years.
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