Singapore

Repeat cigarette smuggler given 40 months’ jail, $8.7m fine

The director of a logistics company was sentenced to 40 months' jail by the State Courts on Monday and given a fine of $8.7 million for dealing with and storing contraband cigarettes.

Iskandar Abu Bakar, 44, was arrested on July 6 last year when Singapore Customs officers conducted an operation at the Changi Airfreight Centre (CAC).They inspected a consignment of two crates declared as "machinery parts and accessories" bound for his company.

Inside, they found 3,050 cartons of contraband cigarettes.

Iskandar had ordered the cigarettes from Jakarta, Indonesia, and engaged another Singaporean, Hashbullah Taufiq Mohd Amin, 44, to retrieve and repack the cigarettes from the crates, investigations revealed.

Iskandar had intended to smuggle the cigarettes from the CAC in multiple trips in his car.

Customs officers conducted a search of Iskandar's car later that day. Local and foreign currencies of more than $120,000, as well as more contraband cigarettes, were found.

All the cigarettes were seized.

The duty and goods and services tax evaded amounted to about $287,330 and $21,000 respectively.

Iskandar pleaded guilty to two charges. Ten years ago, he was jailed for 12 months for a similar offence.

As a repeat offender, he is liable to an enhanced punishment under the Customs Act.

Iskandar's sentence for dealing in contraband cigarettes is the highest since 2014, a Singapore Customs spokesman said.

If he cannot pay the fine, he will serve another 20 months in jail in default. Hashbullah was sentenced to 30 months' jail on July 31 last year. - LYDIA LAM

COURT & CRIME