Jail for man who cheated IRAS into disbursing more than S$11.8 million in productivity grants

SINGAPORE: A man who cheated the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) into disbursing more than S$11.8 million in productivity funds was on Monday (Mar 7) sentenced to nine years and four months' jail.

Lim Chit Foo, who pleaded guilty in January, was convicted of 20 counts of cheating. Another 411 charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.

About half of the charges were for conspiring with two others – Wang Jiao and Li Dan – to defraud the taxman, said the police, adding that their cases are currently before the courts.

Between April 2015 and September 2016, 230 companies – mostly dormant and shell companies – were used to submit 400 fraudulent claims to IRAS under the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme.

"These claims involved fictitious purchases of software made by the applicant companies from a pool of six shell vendor companies," said the police in a media release.

To evade detection, Lim did not register himself as a director or shareholder in any of the companies. "Instead, he recruited multiple individuals to be nominee directors for the companies," the police added.

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The nominee directors' Singpass accounts were used to submit false claims under the PIC scheme, and some of them opened corporate bank accounts at Lim's request.

Others used existing bank accounts to receive payouts from the taxman when the PIC claims were approved.

"Lim would further instruct the nominee directors on how to dispose of the monies, including depositing monies into his own personal bank accounts. In so doing, Lim acquired criminal proceeds of around S$1.14 million," the police said.

The false claims came to light when IRAS discovered that one of the nominee directors had submitted forged documents as part of the PIC application process.

A total of 37 nominee directors have been charged for their involvement. Thirty of them have been convicted and fined between S$4,000 and S$9,000 and disqualified from being a director of companies for a period of between three and three-and-a-half years.

Court proceedings for the remaining seven are ongoing, the police said.

A court on Monday ordered Lim's jail term to begin after he serves a 40-month sentence he received in January 2019 for instigating witnesses to lie to the police.

"The police treat abuse of government grants seriously and will not hesitate to take action against such offenders. Offenders will be dealt with severely in accordance with the law," said the police.

Artmotion Asia

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