Convicted mastermind of scheme involving bogus claims has remaining 55 charges withdrawn
Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 19 May 2023
Author: Shaffiq Alkhatib
S. Chandran was sentenced to three years’ jail in March 2021 and ordered to pay a penalty of $295,272 which is one of the largest penalties imposed for fraud cases involving the PIC scheme.
The mastermind of a ruse which caused a government agency to disburse $73,818 in public funds to individuals over bogus claims has had all 55 of his remaining charges withdrawn.
IT instructor-turned-magician S. Chandran, 42, who is now in jail after he was convicted in 2020 of three charges under the Income Tax Act, was given a discharge amounting to an acquittal for the 55 charges following a pre-trial conference on May 9.
This means that he cannot be charged again with the same offences.
Without revealing details, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) told The Straits Times on Thursday that the prosecution had applied for his remaining charges to be withdrawn.
District Judge Ng Cheng Thiam then granted the application.
Chandran was found guilty in July 2020 on three counts of helping three people to make bogus claims under the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme.
He was sentenced to three years’ jail in March 2021 and ordered to pay a penalty of $295,272. Failure to pay the amount would have seen him spend an additional 30 weeks behind bars.
He appealed against his conviction and sentence in March 2022. His appeal against his conviction was unsuccessful, but his jail term was reduced to 28 months.
His penalty of $295,272 and its default terms remained unchanged.
In its statement, the AGC said this sentence is one of the largest penalties imposed for fraud cases involving the PIC scheme.
Chandran had worked with three people to make bogus claims under the scheme.
As a result of the fraudulent claims, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) disbursed more than $24,000 to each of the three individuals.
The PIC scheme offered tax deductions or cash payouts to companies that made genuine investments to enhance productivity and innovation, such as investing in staff training, information technology or automation equipment.
As part of the conditions, businesses had to employ at least three local workers before they were eligible for the PIC cash payouts.
Iras said on its website that the PIC scheme expired after the Year of Assessment 2018.
Chandran, who was the sole proprietor of a firm called Paradize Consultancy, had helped a man and two women make bogus claims under the PIC scheme before the trio received the monies in 2014.
In one of the cases, he helped the man register a sole proprietorship. Although it had no employees, Chandran convinced the man to make a fake PIC claim.
He repeated this tactic with the two women.
After receiving the cash, the trio handed half of their ill-gotten gains to Chandran.
The two women were given conditional warnings, while the man was ordered to pay a $49,212 penalty and a $5,000 fine in 2017.
Separately, Ms A.K. Sahtyah J. Alexander Vincent, 35, who was married to Chandran at the time of his offences and was accused of being involved in the ruse, was given a discharge amounting to an acquittal earlier.
She was also given a stern warning.
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