LAST_UPDATESun, 22 Jul 2018 9pm

Four Chinese Nationals Jailed In S'pore For Peddling Contraband Cigarettes On Wechat

SINGAPORE: Four Chinese nationals have been jailed in recent weeks for peddling contraband cigarettes on WeChat, said Singapore Customs in a press release on Friday.

China's Xinhua news agency reported taht 26-year-old Zhang Daolong was sentenced to five months' jail on Wednesday after being arrested on April 28 as he was leaving his rented room.

Singapore Customs said that more than 235 cartons of contraband cigarettes were seized in this operation. The amount of duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded exceeded S$20,110 Singapore(US$14,801).

Another case involved a married couple, 32-year-old Ma Feng and 33-year-old Zhang Qiuping. They were each sentenced on April 14 to 12 weeks' imprisonment for their involvement in contraband cigarette activities.

The couple had set up WeChat accounts to attract potential buyers for their contraband cigarettes. Ma was in charge of liaising with contraband cigarette suppliers while his wife, Zhang, liaised with and delivered the contraband cigarettes to their buyers, said Singapore Customs.

The couple were arrested separately with more than 67 cartons of contraband cigarettes were seized. The amount of duty and GST evaded exceeded S$5,720 (US$4,210).

Singapore Customs also revealed that 33-year-old Liu Huawen was sentenced on March 14 to three months' imprisonment and a fine of S$9,200 (US$6,771) or in default two months and two weeks' imprisonment.

Liu was arrested when he was delivering contraband cigarettes. The officers then raided Liu's rented room in an HDB flat with more than 94 cartons of contraband cigarettes were seized. The amount of duty and GST evaded exceeded S$8,050(US$5,925)

Investigations revealed that Liu had sourced for suppliers and buyers of contraband cigarettes via the WeChat platform.

"We are keeping a close watch on such illegal activities on WeChat and other social media platforms," said Yeo Ban Meng, Head of Suppression and Community Engagement, Singapore Customs, "Offenders will be severely punished in accordance with the law."

Buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, having in possession or dealing with duty-unpaid goods are serious offences under the Customs Act and the GST Act. Offenders can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded, and/or jailed for up to six years.