Penalties for Lying to the Authorities in Singapore

Last updated on January 20, 2021

man being interrogated by police

Lying to the authorities is a criminal offence and encompasses a wide range of scenarios which include lodging false police reports and lying to health officials.

Under section 177 of the Penal Code, an individual who is legally bound to provide information to the authorities but knowingly offers false information instead is liable for a fine of up to $5,000, a jail term of up to 6 months or both.

Take this scenario as illustrated by the Penal Code for example:

A landholder, A, knows of a murder that has taken place on his property. However, he intentionally misinforms the police that the death was a mere accident and the consequence of a snake bite.

By the definition of section 177 of the Penal Code, A would be guilty of an offence for providing false information on the victim’s cause of death.

As mentioned, lying to the authorities can refer to various scenarios. To give you more insight, we will be delving further into the following offences in this article.

Making a False Police Report

Governed by section 182 of the Penal Code, anyone who intentionally provides a public servant with wrong information to mislead them into using their lawful power for certain acts, will be liable to a jail term of up to 2 years, a fine, or both.

These certain acts are:

  • Injuring another person;
  • Annoying any person; or
  • Doing or omitting to do anything that a public servant would otherwise do or omit to do.

In November 2019, Fredy Kosman Kwee, who was unhappy with the lack of attention from his boyfriend, made three separate phone calls to the police and accused his partner of drugging and raping him.

In light of the allegations made, the police opened investigations against Kwee’s boyfriend under the Penal Code and Misuse of Drugs Act.

However, Kwee’s claims were ultimately proven false with the help of CCTV footage and he was found guilty of making a false police report.

Further investigations eventually uncovered that Kwee had been suffering from amphetamine-induced psychosis at the time of the offences, resulting in a lower sentence of a 5-day jail term.

Lying About an Offence That Has Been Committed 

Section 203 of the Penal Code states that if you purposefully give the police false information despite knowing or having reason to believe that a crime has been committed, you can be sentenced to a jail term of up to 2 years, a fine or both.

This section essentially refers to intentionally misleading the police to help a criminal escape and avoid the legal consequences of his actions.

Tampering with Evidence

Interfering with investigations, by altering or destroying evidence with the intention of helping a criminal escape conviction, results in heavy sentences. The more serious the offence being covered up for is, the more severe the sentence:

If the offence being covered up for is punishable by death, you will be liable to a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine.

If the offence being covered up for is punishable by life imprisonment or for a jail term of up to 20 years, you will be liable to a jail term of up to 7 years and a fine.

If the offence being covered up for is punishable by a jail term that does not exceed 20 years, you will be liable to a maximum jail term of a quarter of the longest term of the original offence and/or a fine.

For more information on destroying and tampering with evidence, please refer to our other article.

Perjury: Lying or Providing False Evidence in Court

Witnesses are expected to tell the truth in court. Before they testify in court, for example, they are required to swear or affirm that they will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Erroneous productions of evidence and witness accounts in court may not only lead to false convictions, but also squanders resources that could have otherwise been invested in other cases and investigations.

With this in mind, Chapter XI of the Penal Code is dedicated to offences for various situations of falsified evidence and lays out their corresponding punishments.

For example, the punishment meted out for lying or consciously providing false information, despite being legally bound by oath to state the truth, is provided for in section 193 of the Penal Code.

Under this section, anyone who commits perjury and intentionally gives false information, or fabricates false evidence for use in any stage of a judicial proceeding, is liable to a jail term of up to 7 years and a fine.

Lying to Immigration Authorities

Lying to the authorities does not only entail misinformation to law enforcement officials but other public servants, such as the immigration authorities, as well.

Section 28 of the Immigration Act explicitly states that any person entering or leaving Singapore is obligated to fully and truthfully answer any questions asked by an immigration or police officer.

Failing to be honest with the immigration authorities may end with you being liable for a fine of up to $2,000, or to a jail term of up to 6 months or both. Alternatively, knowingly producing any false or misleading documents could land you with a fine of up to $6,000, or to a jail term of up to 2 years, or both.

In addition, section 14(4)(a) of the Immigration Act dictates that if you have entered or are remaining in Singapore by way of a permit, and any information given in relation to your application for the permit is false, the Controller of Immigration may revoke the permit and declare your presence to be unlawful.

Once your presence is declared unlawful, you will be guilty of an offence. If you remain unlawfully in Singapore for 90 days or less, you could land up with a fine of up to $4,000 or to a jail term of up to 6 months, or both.

Should your stay exceed 90 days, you will be faced with a harsher sentence of a maximum jail term of up to 6 months and shall also be punished with at least 3 strokes of the cane.

If you are deemed to be not suitable for caning, you will be punished with a fine of up to $6,000 instead (on top of the existing jail term).

In the case of former China tour guide, Yang Yin, the Singapore Permanent Resident had lied his way into obtaining an employment pass, and finally, permanent residency in Singapore. He also had plans to apply for citizenship.

Prior to his conviction, Yang had been producing fake documents and financial statements to trick the authorities into believing that he was the owner of a successful company.

The revelation of his deception led the authorities to further expose the rest of Yang’s lies which included a fake university degree and his falsification of over a hundred receipts. His deceit and manipulation allowed him to obtain permanent residency while his wife was granted a long-term visit pass.

For 120 charges against him that were purely related to the forging of documents, Yang was sentenced to a total jail term of 26 months.

Lying When Applying for Work Permits

Under section 22(1)(d) of the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, lying when applying for or renewing a work pass constitutes an offence.

If you make a false statement or provide misleading information which you know or ought to know is deceptive to an authorised person, such as officials from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), you may be fined up to $20,000, or jailed for a maximum of 2 years, or both.

Lying to Tax Authorities (Tax Evasion)

Typically, tax evasion is derived from the deliberate misrepresentation of profits and accounts to receive a lower tax liability. This is achieved by lying and omitting any information with regard to the income or profit you have made and are required to declare when filing taxes.

Section 96 of the Income Tax Act sets out that any person who wilfully intends to evade, or assist another party to evade, tax will be subject to a penalty of thrice the amount of tax undercharged, a $10,000 fine, or a 3-year jail term, or a combination of the three.

On the other hand, section 96A of the Income tax Act deals with more serious fraudulent tax evasion like the fabrication of documents (as compared to lying about or omitting income or profit information when filing their tax returns).

In this case, offenders may be sentenced to pay up to quadruple the amount of tax underpaid, a fine of up to $50,000, or a jail term for a maximum of 5 years, or a combination of the three.

In December 2019, Ng Wee Kheng was found guilty of understating S$1.28 million of his trade income in an attempt to pay less taxes.

For his actions, Ng was sentenced to a jail term of 6 months and ordered to pay a penalty fee of S$740,978, which amounted to thrice the amount of tax he evaded.

Lying to Health Authorities

Section 64 of the Infectious Diseases Act (IDA) provides that providing false or misleading documents and information, and hindering any authorised figure with power conferred by the IDA, are punishable offences.

In the case of a first-time conviction, you may be liable for a fine of up to $10,000 or to a jail term of up to 6 months, or to both. On the other hand, repeat offenders will face a fine of up to $20,000, or a jail term of up to 12 months, or both.

Amidst the coronavirus outbreak in February 2020, a couple from China was charged with giving false information to Ministry of Health (MOH) officials.

Chinese national Hu Jun had arrived in Singapore with his wife, Shi Sha, just nine days before he was confirmed to have COVID-19. Authorities reached out to the pair for their whereabouts to conduct thorough contact tracing, but the pair proceeded to lie about their movements.

Given the severity of the outbreak, their lies could have posed a huge health risk and danger to many other unsuspecting civilians.

Lying to the authorities can come with dire consequences and it is simply not up for debate that all information given to the authorities should be as truthful and factual as possible.

Hence when giving any information to the authorities, it is in the greatest interest of everyone to ensure that your information is unembellished and provided to the best of your knowledge.

If you have been charged with an offence for lying to the authorities, you may want to engage a criminal defence lawyer. A good criminal defence lawyer will know how to best defend you, disprove any false accusations against you and help achieve a fair outcome for your matter.

Should you require further assistance or legal advice, do not hesitate to reach out to any of our experienced criminal lawyers.

Arrest and Investigation
  1. How to Write a Letter of Representation to AGC in Singapore
  2. What is Entrapment and is It Legal in Singapore?
  3. Juvenile Crime: What If Your Child is Arrested in Singapore?
  4. Police Investigation Process in Singapore
  5. Arrest Warrant Issued Against You in Singapore: What to Do
  6. Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
  7. Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
  8. What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
  9. Can the Public Make a Citizen's Arrest in Singapore?
  10. What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
  11. "Right to Remain Silent" to Singapore Police: Does It Exist?
  12. Police Custody in Singapore: What You Should Know
  13. Search Warrant: The Issuance and Execution of It in Singapore
  14. Penalties for Lying to the Authorities in Singapore
  15. Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
  16. Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
  17. Extradition: What If I Flee After Committing Crime in Singapore
Bail
  1. The Essential Guide to Bail and Personal Bonds in Singapore
Prosecution
  1. What is Private Prosecution?
  2. Magistrate’s Complaints, Private Summons and Private Prosecutions in Singapore
  3. Prosecutorial Discretion in Singapore
  4. Compounding or Composition of Offences in Singapore
  5. Plea Bargaining in Singapore: All You Need to Know
During Criminal Proceedings
  1. Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
  2. Claiming Trial as an Accused
  3. Pleading Guilty in Singapore: Consequences & Withdrawal of Plea
  4. The Defence of Unsound Mind in Singapore: What is It?
  5. Gag Orders in Singapore: Whose Identity Can be Protected?
  6. Mitigation Plea: How to Plead for Leniency in Court in Singapore
After Criminal Proceedings
  1. Guide to Filing a Criminal Appeal in Singapore
  2. Criminal Motion: What is It and How to File One in Singapore
  3. Guide to Filing a Criminal Revision in Singapore
  4. Presidential Clemency in Singapore
  5. Repatriation or Deportation from Singapore: How Does It Work?
  6. Criminal Records in Singapore
  7. Visiting a Loved One in Prison or On Death Row in Singapore
  8. Getting Parole (Early Prison Release) in Singapore
Types of Sentences After Committing an Offence
  1. How Long Is Life Imprisonment in Singapore? And Other FAQs
  2. Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
  3. Probation: Eligibility and Whether It Leaves a Criminal Record
  4. How Can Adult Offenders Get Probation in Singapore?
  5. Reformative Training in Singapore: When Will It be Ordered?
  6. Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?
  7. Caning in Singapore: Judicial, School & Parental Corporal Punishment
  8. 7 Detention Orders in Singapore: When Will They be Ordered?
  9. Day Reporting Order: Eligibility and Offender's Obligations
Being a Victim
  1. Laws Protecting Informers/Whistleblowers in Singapore
  2. Counterfeit Medicine/Health Products: Redress for Victims in Singapore
  3. Using Your Right to Self-Defence When Attacked in Singapore
  4. Compensation for Crime Victims in Singapore: How to Obtain
Offences Against the Human Body
  1. Voluntarily Causing Hurt Penalties in Singapore (Non-Arrestable)
  2. Murder vs Culpable Homicide in Singapore (and Penalties)
  3. Is Suicide Illegal in Singapore? Will I Be Punished for Trying?
  4. Kidnapping Scam: Penalties & Responding to a ‘Kidnap Call/Text'
Sexual Offences
  1. Rape Laws in Singapore and How Offenders Can Be Punished
  2. Sexual Misconduct in Singapore: Offences and What Victims Can Do
  3. Legal Age for Sex in Singapore and Common Sexual Offences
  4. Consent in Sexual Offences in Singapore and What Victims Can Do
  5. Accused of Molest: Outrage of Modesty in Singapore
  6. What Can Victims of Sexual Harassment in Singapore Do?
  7. What is the Law on Sexting in Singapore?
  8. Revenge Porn: What If Your Nudes are Leaked in Singapore?
  9. Crime of Voyeurism in Singapore (Penalties and Defences)
  10. Date Rape: What to Do If Your Drink Has Been Unlawfully Spiked?
  11. STDs: Can I Go to the Police If a Partner Infected Me in Singapore?
Vice-Related Offences
  1. Singapore's Legal Smoking Age & Common Smoking Offences
  2. Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
  3. Legal Drinking Age and Drinking-Related Laws in Singapore
  4. Is Watching, Downloading or Filming Porn Illegal in Singapore?
  5. Child Pornography in Singapore: Offences and Penalties
  6. Is it illegal to visit prostitutes in Singapore?
  7. Singapore's Drug Laws: Possession, Consumption and Trafficking
  8. Gambling Legally (In Public or Online) in Singapore
  9. The Offence of Human Trafficking in Singapore and Its Penalties
Property Offences
  1. Penalties for Committing Theft in Singapore
  2. Committing Robbery in Singapore: What are the Penalties?
  3. Penalties for Dishonest Misappropriation of Property in Singapore
  4. Vandalism Laws: Penalties for Damaging Property in Singapore
  5. Criminal Trespass in Singapore: What Happens If You’re Caught?
  6. Penalties for Littering and Killer Litter Offences in Singapore
Cybercrime
  1. Penalties for Cheating/Scamming and What Victims Can Do
  2. Penalties for Impersonating Someone and Victim Redress
  3. Singapore Fake News Laws: Guide to POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act)
  4. Laws and Penalties for Doxxing in Singapore (With Examples)
White-Collar Crimes
  1. Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) in Singapore: What is It?
  2. All You Need to Know About Corruption in Singapore
  3. Anti-Money Laundering Laws and You
  4. 5 Things You Need to Know about Insider Trading
  5. Dishonest Assistance and Knowing Receipt: The Case of David Rasif
Road Offences
  1. Charged with a Traffic Offence in Singapore: What to Do
  2. DUI: Here are the Penalties for Drink-Driving in Singapore
  3. What Happens If You’re Caught Speeding in Singapore?
  4. Road Rage: What is It and How are Offenders Sentenced in Singapore
  5. Penalties for Dangerous Driving for Singapore Drivers
  6. Fatal Traffic Accidents: Are Drivers Always Punished?
  7. Guide to E-Scooter and PMD Laws for Singapore Riders
  8. Is it Legal for Drivers to Carpool in Singapore?
Animal-Related Offences
  1. Is It Illegal to Feed Stray Animals in Singapore?
  2. Singapore Animal Abuse Offences, Penalties & How to Report
Offences Relating to Public Peace and Good Order
  1. Public Assemblies and Processions in Singapore
  2. Misbehaving in Public: 5 Things You Need to Know
  3. Racial Enmity: Sections 298 and 298A Penal Code Explained
  4. Religious Cults in Singapore: Are they Illegal? Penalties & More
  5. Penalties for Financing Terrorist Operations in Singapore
Gang and Riot-related Offences
  1. Penalties for Unlawful Assembly and Rioting in Singapore
  2. Is Joining a Gang Illegal in Singapore?: Being Recruited and Penalties
  3. Organised Crimes: Penalties/Orders Syndicates Face in Singapore
Marriage-Related Offences
  1. What are Sham Marriages and Are They Illegal in Singapore?
Certificate of Clearance
  1. How Do You Apply for a Certificate of Clearance in Singapore?
Other Criminal Offences
  1. Here are the Penalties for Committing Forgery in Singapore
  2. Penalties for Illegal Immigration and Overstaying in Singapore
  3. Criminal Intimidation: Penalties for Making Threats in Singapore