Ex-property agent jailed for using fake stamp certificates to cheat

A former property agent, Tan Hock Heng, Desmond, has been sentenced to 12 weeks’ jail for using fake stamp certificates, becoming the first to be punished for such offences.

Desmond Tan Hock Heng, 24, pleaded guilty to five charges under the Stamp Duties Act.

Three other similar charges were taken into consideration.

Tan was sentenced to another two weeks’ jail for criminal breach of trust.

Tan was with HSR Property Group for less than a year when he committed the offences between January and April 2011.

He cheated the Commissioner of Stamp Duties of S$3,694, using fake stamp certificates in seven property rental transactions.

Stamp duty is a tax payable on documents or agreements relating to properties, such as tenancy or lease agreements, sale and purchase agreements.

Once the stamp duty has been paid, a stamp certificate will be issued to certify the payment.

Tan forged eight stamp certificates by using a genuine one obtained from a previous property transaction.

He altered property details such as the addresses, names of the landlords and tenants and stamp duty amounts.

He then presented the counterfeit stamp certificates to the landlords, agents and tenants.

They didn’t know that Tan did not pass the Commissioner of Stamp Duties the stamp duties they paid to him.

Tan was arrested early this year after the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) started investigating various property rental transactions.

These included transactions for property at Marina Boulevard and Anson Road.

IRAS said on Tuesday that it takes a “very serious view of non-stamping and stamp duty fraud”.

It said Tan’s clients had entrusted him as a property agent to pay their stamp duties to the Commissioner of Stamp Duties.

Instead, he “let his clients down and defrauded the government of taxes”.

Anyone who knowingly passes fake certificates off as genuine can be jailed up to three years and fined S$10,000.

Source : CNA – 16 May 2012

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