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Parliamentary Replies

Customs And Excise Related Offences (Vehicles Used)

19 Oct 2009

Date: 19 October 2009

Question No. 199 (by Ellen Lee Geck Hoon, MP for Sembawang GRC):

To ask the Minister for Finance (a) how many offenders of customs and excise related offences, specifically cigarettes smuggling, were prosecuted in the last two years; (b) where vehicles were used in the commission of the offence, how many of these vehicles were detained and forfeited by the court; and (c) whether there were instances where the vehicles were owned by third parties who had no knowledge of the use of their vehicles, and upon due proof were not forfeited but returned.

Reply by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam:

The number of offenders prosecuted for cigarette smuggling offences was 1,314 in 2007 and 1,382 in 2008. For the period to September this year, 895 offenders have been prosecuted.

The court forfeited 218 vehicles used for cigarette smuggling in 2007, 193 vehicles in 2008, and 156 vehicles for the period to September this year.

Singapore Customs applies to forfeit a seized vehicle used for cigarette smuggling if it belongs to an offender. If the seized vehicle belongs to a third party, Singapore Customs considers whether the owner had conducted due diligence prior to letting the car be used. If investigations reveal that the owner was unaware of the use of his vehicle in the customs offence, the vehicle is released. 126 vehicles belonging to a third party were released after seizure in 2007, 101 in 2008 and 48 for the period to September this year. This is roughly half of the total number of third party-owned vehicles that were seized.