Businessman Foo Tee Suan (“Foo”), who was the sole-proprietor of FTH Enterprise (“FTH”), partner of F&T Top System Enterprise (“F&T”) and Hwa Rong Import & Export (“HRIE”) and director of Hwa Rong Enterprise Pte Ltd (“HREPL”), has been convicted for making false entries in the GST returns of the four business entities which resulted in GST refunds totalling $458,019.69.
Foo faced a total of 54 GST charges of wilful intent to evade tax by making false entries in the GST returns of the four business entities. He pleaded guilty to 18 out of the 54 GST evasion charges, involving a total GST amount of $172,314.90 undercharged, with the other 36 remaining GST evasion charges being taken into consideration for the purposes of sentencing. The Court sentenced Foo to 24 weeks’ imprisonment and ordered him to pay a penalty of $516,944.70, three times the amount of tax undercharged.
IRAS’ Audit Detected Fraudulent GST Refund Claims
One of Foo’s business entities, F&T, was audited by IRAS during one of its regular audits of GST-registered businesses. During the course of audit, IRAS’ auditors discovered that Foo had made false entries in the GST returns of F&T. The audit further discovered that Foo had also made false entries in the GST returns of three other business entities that he was involved in.
Foo’s scheme to commit GST tax fraud first began with a suggestion from Eric Chia Puay Yeoh (“Chia”), who was convicted in July 2014 for masterminding a complex GST scam using multiple shell entities. Chia suggested to Foo to voluntarily register his export business, FTH Enterprise (FTH), for GST so that FTH could claim fictitious GST refunds. Thereafter, Foo set up three other entities that were all shell companies without any business transactions.
Foo, with wilful intent to evade tax, signed blank GST return forms for the four business entities and provided Chia with his SingPass in order for Chia to e-file the GST return forms for the four business entities. To illegally obtain GST refunds, Chia declared fictitious figures in the GST returns and fraudulently claimed a total of $457,749.59 in GST refunds. Foo benefitted from the fictitious GST refunds that Chia obtained and used some of the GST refund monies for his own personal expenses.
Severe Penalties for Fraudulent GST Claims
GST-registered businesses are allowed to offset the GST they pay for their purchases (input tax) against the GST they collect from sales (output tax). They pay the net difference to IRAS. Those that incur more GST on purchases than they collect from their sales can claim the difference from IRAS in the form of GST refunds.