Mohamed Hiraz Hassim v Public Prosecutor

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Judgment Date01 February 2005
Docket NumberCriminal Revision No 1 of 2005,
Date01 February 2005
Mohamed Hiraz Hassim
Public Prosecutor

[2005] SGHC 23

Yong Pung How CJ

Criminal Revision No 1 of 2005, Magistrate's Appeal No 138 of 2004

High Court

Criminal Law–Statutory offences–Customs Act–Importation of gemstones into Singapore–Whether appellant liable to pay Goods and Services Tax upon importation and before goods removed from customs control–Section 27 (1) (a) Customs Act (Cap 70, 2004 Rev Ed)–Criminal Procedure and Sentencing–Revision of proceedings–Whether conviction unsafe–Whether court should exercise powers of criminal revision–Whether alleged dispute over monetary value of imported goods resulting in serious injustice–Section 268 Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed)–Criminal Procedure and Sentencing–Sentencing–Benchmark sentences–Whether sentence manifestly excessive–Whether correct base figure used in determining amount of fine–Whether median fine should have been imposed–Whether fine imposed consistent with benchmark sentence–Revenue Law–Goods and Services Tax (GST)–Fraudulent evasion of GST–Whether appellant liable to pay GST upon importation of gemstones into Singapore–Whether known or designated buyer for imported goods necessary before appellant liable to pay GST–Section 8 (4)Goods and Services Tax Act (Cap 117A, 2001 Rev Ed)

The appellant brought 66 lots of gemstones into Singapore from Bangkok for sale to a Singapore client. Upon his arrival at Changi Airport, the appellant approached the customs officers to pay Goods and Services Tax (“GST”) on his goods. He handed to the customs officers an unnumbered invoice, which purported to reflect the value of the goods as $10,000.00, and proceeded to pay GST of $500.00 based on this amount. However, the customs officers examined the gemstones and suspected the value given to be underdeclared. Upon questioning, the appellant admitted that he had suppressed the value of the gemstones and that their actual value was $43,282.75.

The appellant pleaded guilty to evading GST to the amount of $1664.14, which was the difference between the amount payable and the amount originally paid. A fine of $25,000.00 was imposed on the appellant, which he paid. The appellant subsequently filed a petition for criminal revision, claiming that his conviction had been unsafe. The appellant also appealed against the fine, claiming that it was manifestly excessive.

Held, dismissing both the petition and appeal:

(1) The court's powers of revision were to be exercised sparingly, and only if the court was satisfied that some serious injustice had been caused which warranted the exercise of its powers of revision. It was not the purpose of a criminal revision to be a convenient form of backdoor appeal against conviction for accused persons who had pleaded guilty: at [11].

(2) It was not a relevant consideration whether or not there was a known or designated buyer for the appellant to transfer the goods to in Singapore. GST on the importation of goods was charged, levied and payable as if it were customs duty or excise duty, and as if all goods imported into Singapore were dutiable and liable to customs duty or excise duty. Customs duty (including GST) had to be paid at the time of importation, before goods were removed from customs control. The appellant was thus liable to pay GST when he imported the gemstones into Singapore: at [13].

(3) The appellant's subsequent claim that the value of the gemstones was only $10,000.00 contradicted his own admission and plea of guilt. The appellant had admitted to suppressing the value of the gemstones, and had admitted that the actual value of the gemstones was $43,282.75. The appellant's dispute over the precise monetary value of the gemstones bore no relation to his plea of guilt. Therefore, no serious injustice had been caused to the appellant that would warrant the exercise of the court's powers of criminal revision: at [14], [16] and [17].

(4) The appellant's own admission that the value of the gemstones was $43,282.75 had been accepted at trial, and he had been sentenced on that basis. Not once did the appellant challenge the accuracy of this value. This figure had been determined by the appellant's own admission, and it was not for him to challenge this figure on appeal: at [22].

(5) The court was not at all persuaded by the appellant's unusual argument that a “median” figure be used to determine his sentence. The fine of $25,000.00 was not manifestly excessive because this amount was entirely in line with the current benchmark sentence of 15 times the customs duty or tax leviable: at [25] and [27].

[Observation: It might be prudent in future cases of this type to direct that similar imported goods be properly appraised and valued before deciding on the appropriate fine to impose. It may be potentially risky to calculate the fine by relying solely on the admission of the accused person who, by virtue of his own admission, has already proved himself dishonest at least once: at [24].]

Abdul Aziz bin Ahtam v PP [1996] 3 SLR (R) 799; [1997] 2 SLR 96 (folld)

Ang Poh Chuan v PP [1995] 3 SLR (R) 929; [1996] 1 SLR 326 (folld)

Chen Hock Heng Textile Printing Pte Ltd v PP [1996] 1 SLR (R) 418; [1996] 1 SLR 745 (folld)

Chia Kah Boon v PP [1999] 2 SLR (R) 1163; [1999] 4 SLR 72 (folld)

Moey Keng Kong v PP [2001] 2 SLR (R) 867; [2001] 4 SLR 211 (folld)

Mok Swee Kok v PP [1994] 3 SLR (R) 134; [1994] 3 SLR 140 (folld)

Ng Kim Han v PP [2001] 1 SLR (R) 397; [2001] 2 SLR 293 (folld)

Ngian Chin Boon v PP [1998] 3 SLR (R) 655; [1999] 1 SLR 119 (folld)

PP v Lee Wei Zheng Winston [2002] 2 SLR (R) 800; [2002] 4 SLR 33 (folld)

PP v Koon Seng Construction Pte Ltd [1996] 1 SLR (R) 112; [1996] 1 SLR 573 (folld)

PP v Nyu Tiong Lam [1995] 3 SLR (R) 788; [1996] 1 SLR 273 (folld)

PP v Ramlee [1998] 3 SLR (R) 95; [1998] 3 SLR 539 (folld)

Teo Hee Heng v PP [2000] 2 SLR (R) 351; [2000] 3 SLR 168 (folld)

Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed) s 268 (consd);ss 251, 255, 256, 257

Customs Act (Cap 70, 2004 Rev Ed) s 27 (1) (a) (consd);ss 3 (1), 130 (1) (f)

Goods and Services Tax Act (Cap 117A, 2001 Rev Ed) s 8 (4) (consd);s 18

Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322, 1999 Rev Ed) s 23

Wan Mew Lin Margaret (Braddell Brothers) for the appellant

Janet Wang (Deputy...

To continue reading

Request your trial
11 cases
  • PlanAssure PAC (formerly known as Patrick Lee PAC) v Gaelic Inns Pte Ltd
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 30 August 2007
    ...fogginess as to the accuracy and reliability of the figures adopted in the criminal proceedings. In Mohamed Hiraz Hassim v PP [2005] 1 SLR 622 (“Mohamad Hiraz Hassim”), the court cautioned against the blanket acceptance of an admission by an accused where the value of certain goods was in q......
  • Thong Sing Hock v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 2 March 2009 strikes at the very essence of the exercise of judicial power (see Ang Poh Chuan v PP [1996] 1 SLR 326, Mohamed Hiraz Hassim v PP [2005] 1 SLR 622). However, it has to be kept in mind that Parliament has conferred this power on the High Court so as to ensure that no potential cases of se......
  • Megastar Entertainment Pte Ltd and Another v Odex Pte Ltd
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 28 April 2005
    ...that strikes at its basis as an exercise of judicial power by the court below”. Similarly, I made it clear in Mohamed Hiraz Hassim v PP [2005] 1 SLR 622 at [11] that “the court’s powers of revision are exercised sparingly, and only if the court is satisfied that some serious injustice has b......
  • Ng Chye Huey and another v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 24 January 2007
    ...2 MLJ 243 (refd) Microsoft Corp v SM Summit Holdings Ltd [2000] 1 SLR (R) 423; [2000] 2 SLR 137 (folld) Mohamed Hiraz Hassim v PP [2005] 1 SLR (R) 622; [2005] 1 SLR 622 (refd) Mohamed Razip v PP [1987] SLR (R) 525; [1987] SLR 142 (folld) Mohamed Saleem Ismail, Re [1987] SLR (R) 380; [1987] ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Revenue and Tax Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2005, December 2005
    • 1 December 2005
    ...and fines amounting to $216,000 in total were imposed. Valuation for goods and services tax purposes 20.58 In Mohamed Hiraz Hassim v PP[2005] 1 SLR 622, the appellant was found guilty of evading GST by bringing 66 lots of gemstones from Bangkok into Singapore for sale to a Singapore client.......
  • Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Sentencing
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2005, December 2005
    • 1 December 2005
    ...of the sentences to run consecutively. Goods and services tax offences — pegging fine at median level 11.39 In Mohamed Hiraz Hassim v PP[2005] 1 SLR 622, the appellant under-declared the value of 66 lots of gemstones which he imported into Singapore, by producing an invoice purporting to va......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT