Channel NewsAsia - 1 hour 40 minutes ago
SINGAPORE: First—time offenders caught in possession of contraband cigarettes will have to pay a fine of S$500 per packet, starting July 15.
In a press statement released on Monday, Singapore Customs said the composition sum, which was initially implemented in hotspots such as Geylang and Yew Tee in Oct 2007, will now be extended across the island.
Up till now, the fine for offenders caught in other areas ranges from S$200 to S$500.
Singapore Customs said tougher enforcement has been effective in deterring cigarette smugglers.
Its officers seized 36 per cent less contraband cigarettes in the first half of this year compared to 2007.
The number of sellers caught also fell by 34 per cent, while 17 per cent fewer buyers were nabbed.
The agency attributed the reduction in quantity seized and offenders caught to stepped—up enforcement and checks at both inland and checkpoint areas.
This has curtailed demand, resulting in a weakened supply of contraband cigarettes.
Customs officers have also been targeting syndicates involved in transporting, storing and supplying duty—unpaid cigarettes.
655 people were charged in Court for these offences in the first six months of this year. — CNA/vm
Channel NewsAsia - Thursday, July 31
SINGAPORE: Thirty—nine people have been hit with high fines for buying illegal cigarettes, following a crackdown last weekend.
It was the first major operation by Singapore Customs since the standardised penalty of S$500 per packet was imposed on July 15.
Previously, only first—time offenders nabbed in contraband hotspots in Geylang and Yew Tee would be subject to a fine of this amount.
Some 2,700 packets of duty—unpaid cigarettes — hidden in back alley rubbish chutes, drains and unused letter boxes — were seized in the operation.
Packets of duty—unpaid cigarettes were even found hanging from tree branches and stashed away in electric risers.
Eight sellers were also arrested in the raids, which were conducted islandwide in areas such as Geylang, Tampines, Jurong and Woodlands.
To remove the demand for illegal cigarettes, the authorities have pledged to mount more raids islandwide.
One buyer, 39—year—old Mohd Zahari Matnin, received more than the standard S$500 fine as he was also convicted of hurling vulgarities at a customs officer. He was fined a total of S$2,200 for three charges under the Customs Act.
Singapore Customs said the new S$500 penalty is aimed at reducing the number of illegal cigarettes on the market.
In the first half of 2008, 1.6 million packets of duty—unpaid cigarettes were seized, and 2,549 buyers were caught and fined. — CNA/so