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Buyers, property agents charged with evading higher stamp duty by backdating option to purchase

SINGAPORE — In the first prosecution of its kind, four people were charged on Friday (March 12) with executing a backdated option to purchase in order to avoid paying higher Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD).

The buyers of a Pasir Ris condominium unit allegedly wanted to avoid paying S$69,000 more in Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty, after the rates were raised in July 2018.

The buyers of a Pasir Ris condominium unit allegedly wanted to avoid paying S$69,000 more in Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty, after the rates were raised in July 2018.

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SINGAPORE — In the first prosecution of its kind, four people were charged on Friday (March 12) with executing a backdated option to purchase in order to avoid paying higher Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD).

Those hauled to court were buyers Daniel Halim and Lee Liu Ying, both aged 44, as well as property agents Loy Thye Wei, 43, and Mu Shen, 51. 

They each face one charge under the Stamp Duties Act, with Mu accused of instigating Loy — the sellers’ agent — to falsely state the date on the option to purchase.

Court documents showed that the property in question was a unit at Sandy Palm condominium, located along Jalan Loyang Besar in Pasir Ris. The option to purchase was agreed on July 8, 2018 or later. 

However, it was allegedly backdated by four days to July 4, 2018 so that Halim and Lee could avoid paying S$69,000 more in stamp duty.

Higher ABSD rates had kicked in on July 6 that year for Singapore citizens buying their second or subsequent residential property.

Those getting a third or subsequent property, like Halim and Lee, would have had to pay 10 per cent in ABSD before the new rule was implemented. Since they purchased the unit after July 6, they would have had to pay an additional 5 per cent.

This was a move to cool the property market and keep price increases in line with economic fundamentals.

Halim, Lee and Mu will return to court on March 26, while Loy will return on April 9. They remain out on bail.

If convicted of executing an instrument or omitting facts and circumstances in the instrument with intent to evade payment of duty, they could be jailed up to three years or fined up to S$10,000, or be punished with both.

TODAY’s checks with the Council for Estate Agencies’ public register revealed that Loy works for ERA Realty, while Mu is employed by Propnex Realty.

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ABSD court crime property

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