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Four Indians charged with bribing Singaporean custom officer

Singapore: Four Indians in Singapore were today charged in court with bribing a custom officer and fraudulently claiming Goods and Services Tax tourist refunds.

The four Indians along with two Singaporeans were arrested after the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) had identified several suspicious GST refund claims using data analytics on its electronic tourist refund system (eTRS), an official statement said today.

The IRAS then worked with the Singapore Customs, Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) to investigate the case and subsequently arrested the four Indians and a former Customs officer, Mohamed Yusof Abdul Rahman on January 27.

A Singaporean sales executive, Lim Pheck Aun, who was employed with a goldsmith shop, was also arrested by the CPIB on the same day. The four Indian nationals charged by the court were Sundar Panneer Selvam, Baskaran Uthirapathy, Pounraj Natarajan and Gobi Raman.

Sundar was charged with 29 counts of corruptly giving gratification amounting to SGD 10,800 and seven counts of giving gratification in the form of a bottle of liquor. He also faces 30 counts for wilful intent to fraudulently claim GST refunds amounting to SGD 213,007.34, and nine counts of removing cash arising from fraudulent GST refund claims out of Singapore.

Baskaran was charged with 11 counts of abetting Sundar and Pounraj Natarajan to corruptly give gratification to Mohamed Yusof Abdul Rahman amounting to SGD 3,550 and one bottle of liquor and SGD 400 to Lim. There are also 33 counts for wilful intent to fraudulently claim GST refunds amounting to SGD 98,273.64, and 11 counts of removing cash arising from fraudulent GST refund claims out of Singapore.

Pounraj Natarajan was charged with five counts of corruptly giving gratification amounting to SGD 1,300 to Mohamed Yusof Abdul Rahman through the previous two men, and one count of corruptly giving gratification amounting to SGD250 to the former Customs officer.

He is also facing 30 counts for wilful intent to fraudulently claim GST refunds amounting to SGD 114,990.51 and 11 counts of removing cash arising from fraudulent GST refund claims out of Singapore. Gobi Raman was charged with 26 counts for wilful intent to fraudulently claim GST refunds amounting to SGD 143,359.63 and nine counts of removing cash arising from fraudulent GST refund claims out of Singapore.

Mohamed Yusof, whose employment with the custom department was not renewed when it expired earlier this month, was charged with corruptly accepting gratification amounting to SGD 11,400 and intentionally assisting the four Indian nationals to fraudulently claim a total of SGD 493,858.67 in GST refunds.

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