The fourth time was definitely not the charm for veteran black market cigarette dealer Raymond Soh Tian Khoon. After coughing up over S$300,000 grand and doing 30 months in jail on three previous convictions for the tax-free smokes trade, Singapore is throwing the book at him.
The 53-year-old was yesterday sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail and fined a whopping S$10.4 million (about US$7.65 million), Singapore Customs revealed.
Given that he can’t (or won’t) cough up the money, he’ll be getting an extra 28 months in jail, bringing his total time behind bars to nearly six years.
Soh and five others were arrested on April 12, 2017, after officers raided an industrial building at Bukit Batok Street 23.
Nearly 4,000 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes, a Singapore-registered truck, and two Malaysia-registered cars were seized, a statement released yesterday revealed.
The amount of duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded totaled nearly S$350,000.
Soh had coordinated the delivery of those cigarettes and engaged one of the men to deliver them to the industrial building in a truck.
“Soh also texted the details of the delivery location to another man, who together with three other men went to the location to collect the duty-unpaid cigarettes from the truck,” Customs said.
It added that the men were supposed to transfer the cigarettes to two Malaysia-registered cars for “distribution to various locations in Singapore.”
Soh has been caught for committing similar offenses on three previous occasions.
In 2006, he delivered 200 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes and was subsequently jailed for 10 months.
In 2012, he was caught delivering a bigger load comprising 850 cartons. While out on bail over that offense a year later, Soh was pinched for importing 90 cartons and 604 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes.
He was jailed 14 months and fined S$352,000 over the offenses he committed in 2012 and 2013. He served an additional six months in prison since he did not pay those fines either.
“Soh is a recalcitrant who had repeatedly smuggled duty-unpaid cigarettes thinking that he could get away each time,” the media release quoted Assistant Director-General for Intelligence and Investigation Yeo Sew Meng as saying.
Under the Customs and GST act, those found guilty of buying, selling, delivering, storing or dealing with duty-unpaid cigarettes can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded or jailed for up to six years, or both.
More news from the Little Red Dot at Coconuts.co/Singapore.