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6 insurance agents working at the same agency jailed for falsifying expense claims to evade nearly S$100,000 in taxes

SINGAPORE — Six insurance agents were jailed and penalised for tax evasion on Friday (Sept 16) after they claimed false business expenses and collectively reduced their income taxes by close to S$100,000.

The six, who used to work at the same agency, pleaded guilty to making false entries to evade tax.

They are:

  • Yvonne Quah, 34, who was jailed for eight weeks and ordered to pay S$113,839 for evading S$37,946 in personal income taxes
  • Lim Zhan Yi, 32, who was jailed for five weeks and ordered to pay S$83,610 for evading S$27,703 in taxes
  • Chan Jun Yi, 33, who was jailed for two weeks and ordered to pay S$27,531 for evading S$9,010 in taxes
  • Sherlin Chia Hee Ping, 41, who was jailed for 10 days and ordered to pay S$32,542 for evading S$10,680 in taxes
  • Chanel Quah Hui Wen, 31, who was jailed for one week and ordered to pay S$14,433 for evading S$4,644 in taxes
  • Jackie Tang Hong Kong, 42, who was jailed for four days and ordered to pay S$8,465 for evading S$2,655 in taxes

Court documents did not state which agency they worked for but checks online revealed that they represented Great Eastern Financial Advisers.

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras), which brought the charges against them, said in a statement that for the 2018 and 2019 tax assessment years, the six had claimed business expenses amounting to about S$600,000 in their income tax returns as “general expenses” and “commissions paid to introducers”.

Investigations found these to be a sham.

“The six insurance agents neither paid any ‘introducer fees’ to these purported introducers nor received any services from them,” Iras added.

Tax prosecutor Goh Yong Ngee said that the tax evaders were allegedly aided by two others: Former insurance agent You Yiying and her acquaintance Ian Chew Yen.

You, who was referred to in court documents as Kyra, had known Chew because he had previously introduced clients to her. You was friends with Tang and Chan, and became acquainted with the others through them.

The prosecutor said that Chew had allegedly fabricated documents to support the six agents’ expense claims.

With fake acknowledgement forms stating substantial amounts of “introducer fees”, Chew and Kyra purportedly recruited individuals willing to sign them and provide copies of their identity card in exchange for a token sum, the prosecutor added.

Chew would then allegedly log in to the six agents’ online tax portal accounts and file tax returns on their behalf.

Five of them — Yvonne Quah being the exception — also failed to keep supporting records for their income and allowable deductions, an offense under the Income Tax Act.

Iras said that the six agents will be referred to the Monetary Authority of Singapore for regulatory action.

Kyra pleaded guilty in May to one count of intentionally aiding tax evasion, with two similar charges taken into consideration during sentencing. She was jailed for eight weeks and ordered to pay S$113,839 the next month.

Chew’s case is pending before the courts.

Iras urged businesses and members of the public to immediately disclose any past tax mistakes. It said that it will treat such disclosures as mitigating factors when considering actions to be taken against them.

Informants who provide information or documents that lead to a recovery of evaded taxes will also be given a cash reward of 15 per cent of the tax recovered, the authority said.

“Iras will ensure that the identities of informants are kept strictly confidential,” it added.

Tax evasion carries a penalty of up to three times the amount of tax evaded. Offenders are liable to a separate fine of up to S$10,000 or up to three years’ jail, or both.

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