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Cigarette smuggler sentenced to 5 yrs jail

Cigarette smuggler sentenced to 5 yrs jail

SINGAPORE: A key member of a contraband cigarette smuggling syndicate has been sentenced to five years in jail for his involvement in two smuggling cases, Singapore Customs said in a news release on Friday (Dec 18).

Ibrahim Saleh, 45, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to two charges. Another two charges were taken into consideration in the sentencing, the release said.

In May 2013, Ibrahim, along with four of his accomplices, were arrested for smuggling 14,400 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes. The duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded amounted to more than S$1.3 million, Singapore Customs said.

A total of 14,400 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were seized at a warehouse in Kallang Avenue on May 20, 2013.

One of his accomplices was sentenced to 32 months’ imprisonment and another received a fine of S$1,000.

Ibrahim, however, absconded while he was out on bail and a warrant of arrest was issued against him. On Jun 9 this year, Ibrahim was arrested by Malaysian police in Johor Bahru and extradited to Singapore the same day.

Customs officers raided a warehouse at Loyang Crescent the following day and seized more than 2,999 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes, which were hidden in modified bed headboards imported into Singapore from Batam. The duty and GST evaded amounted to more than S$309,000.

Duty-unpaid cigarettes were hidden in the hollow spaces within the modified bed headboards. (Photo: Singapore Customs)

According to Singapore Customs, the smuggling was coordinated by Ibrahim while he was in Batam. Another five Singaporean men and an Indonesian man were jailed between 26 and 33 months for their involvement.

Ibrahim was sentenced to 26 months in jail for the first case and 34 months for the second case. Both terms are to be served consecutively.

Under the Customs Act and the GST Act, those convicted of buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, possessing or dealing with duty-unpaid goods are liable to a fine of up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded, or imprisonment for up to six years, or both.

First-time and repeat offenders of tobacco-related offences face fines of at least S$2,000 and S$4,000, respectively. Repeat offenders who are caught with more than 2kg of tobacco products will also face mandatory imprisonment.