Five Indians here were charged with fraudulent Goods and Services Tax (GST) refund claims amounting to 167,253 Singapore dollars ($118,392) for jewellery they didn’t buy, the media reported.

Karunanithi Saravanan (36), Karunanidhi Rajesh (32), Waithiyalingam Karunanidhi (61), Kothandaraman Gnanam (29) and Ramaiyan Karthikeyan (43) were arrested on Wednesday following an investigation that stretched nine months, the Strait Times reported.

Each accused faces more than 200 charges of engaging in a conspiracy to claim fraudulent Goods and Services Tax (GST) refunds under the electronic tourist refund scheme (eTRS).

They were each offered a bail of 50,000 Singapore dollars ($35,373) on Thursday and will be back in court on February 24.

If found guilty, they face a penalty of up to three times the amount of refund wrongfully claimed. They can also be fined up to 10,000 Singapore dollars ($7,000), jailed up to seven years, or both.

The tax crime of the five were first discovered on May 27 last year at Changi Airport, triggering a joint investigation by Singapore authorities.

Pretending to be tourists, these Indian men bought jewellery invoices from local customers.

They then used the invoices and their passports to obtain tickets under eTRS and claimed the refunds at the port of departure, according to the report.

The eTRS is available only to tourists to claim GST refund on goods they have purchased and taken out of Singapore.

Singapore’s tax authority said it “will not hesitate to take stern enforcement action against these individuals and any persons assisting them”.