A*Star researcher illegally claims GST for luxury bag and ring, fined $7k

A research fellow at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) was convicted of two goods and services tax (GST) offences and handed a fine of $7,000 on Oct 9. 

Bai Jiaming, 31, a Chinese national, pleaded guilty on Oct 6 to enlisting the help of a colleague's father, Zhang Yaoqun, 61, to illegally claim a GST refund of $1,544 for a Tiffany ring worth $23,600 which Bai bought on Mar 11, 2017. 

He admitted to getting the ring and another Prada bag from Zhang, a tourist, after a GST refund of $1,792 was claimed on the items, reports The Straits Times

Bai was detained for the suspected misuse of a boarding pass just as he was leaving the Arrival North Transit Ara in Changi Airport Terminal 3.

At that time, both the ring and bag were in his possession. 

As he was not a tourist, Bai did not qualify for the GST refund under the Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme. 

Bai's colleague, Zhang Baicheng, had suggested that Bai enlist the help of his father to claim the GST refund, even though Zhang senior was not entitled to it as Bai had purchased the ring. 

Bai purchased a one-way ticket to Jakarta on Mar 10 and went with Zhang, and his father to Changi Airport the following day. 

Bai and Zhang also had return tickets for Bangkok. 

The three of them checked in and entered the transit area. 

Upon claiming the GST refund for both the handbag and the ring, Zhang Yaoqun gave both items to his son, who then handed them to Bai. 

Bai was later stopped by an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officer just as he was leaving the transit area. 

Zhang Baicheng and his father, Zhang Yaoqun have been charged and their case is pending. 

In response to the case, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) said in a statement that it takes a serious view of anyone who makes false declarations to seek GST refunds under the tourist refund scheme and abuses the scheme.

It added that Iras will continue working closely with enforcement authorities to uncover any attempt to defraud GST.

Offenders face a fine up to $5,000 and can be jailed for up to six months. 

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