"Sankar was not entitled to the tourist refunds"
Muthuvel Sankar, aged 41, was jailed for 18 months for a Goods and Services Tax (GST) tourist refund scam, corruption and money laundering on June 18, 2020.
He was charged on June 4 with five counts of corruption involving approximately S$2,800 (£1,600), six counts of GST evasion worth S$29,800 (£17,000) and one amalgamated charge of removing the criminal benefits from Singapore amounting to S$27,895 (£16,000).
The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau identified Sankar as a person of interest following interviews with other subjects in an earlier case in 2014.
A press release by the CPIB, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore and the police said:
“Sankar was not in Singapore then, but was swiftly apprehended by CPIB when he attempted to re-enter Singapore in October 2019.”
Investigations by CPIB, IRAS and the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the police uncovered the Indian national’s crimes.
An IRAS probe revealed that he had made at least six fraudulent tourist refund claims under the Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme.
The Singapore authorities said: “Sankar was not entitled to the tourist refunds as the jewellery purchases were not made by him, but by other persons during the time when Sankar was not in Singapore.”
However, he made tourist refund claims for himself by using the eTRS tickets he got. Sankar also made bogus statements in his claim that he was eligible for such refunds.
Sankar falsely obtained tourist refunds of at least S$29,800 which are offences under the Goods and Services Tax Act.
Sankar had presented the eTRS tickets to Mohamed Yusof Abdul Rahman, a customs officer with Singapore Customs.
Yusof’s duty was to approve GST tourist refund applications upon the necessary verification, and issue eTRS notification slips to tourists for making GST tourist refund claims at the airport.
However, Yusof would endorse the tickets without proper verification of the goods.
On five separate occasions between 2013 and 2014, Sankar gave or conspired to give about S$2,800 to Yusof. On two of these occasions, the act was made through a third-party on behalf of an acquaintance.
According to the authorities, Yusof is no longer employed by Singapore Customs.
Investigations by CAD also revealed that Sankar removed a total of at least S$27,895 out of Singapore, during the same period when he departed Singapore shortly for India after applying for and receiving the GST refunds.
Sankar was jailed for 18 months. He was also fined S$66,981 (£38,700) for the tourist refund scam.
The authorities added: “Singapore adopts a zero-tolerance approach towards corruption, tax fraud and other criminal activities.
“The authorities will not hesitate to take action against any individuals and parties who commit these offences.
“They can expect to face the full brunt of the law.”