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  1. #1

    [News] PM Lee praised Tip Top Curry Puff owner turned Villain

    He evaded taxes despite doing a roaring business

    A small stall space in a HDB coffeeshop, Tip Top Curry Puff makes a fine affordable product. And for some of the heartland dwellers in Ang Mo Kio, where Tip Top is located, an afternoon get-together for curry puffs and tea has become a ritual for well over 20 years.

    That's how long Tip Top (picture) has been in business and its owner, 63-year-old Looi San Cheng will proudly tell anybody willing to listen: "My stall has lots of history and people come from all over the world to buy my curry puffs."

    To the untrained eye, Tip Top is just your average Mom and Pop outlet, struggling to make the odd buck or two in profit. After all, the stall employed only a few workers, and each curry puff cost just $1.

    In fact, Looi's income tax returns over the last six years showed modest returns. For 2002, he even declared a loss of over $37,000.

    But the reality was startingly different. This was revealed when, following a tip-off, Looi was hauled to court on Friday on charges of tax evasion — the first time that a hawker in a coffee shop has been prosecuted for such an offence, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) said.

    A District Court heard that from 2001 to 2006, Looi had under-declared his profits amounting to $1.05 million. When he declared the loss of over $37,000 in 2002, he had actually reaped $145,047 in nett profits.

    In 2005, Looi declared just over $6,000 in net profit, when the actual net profit was closer to $200,000. In the process, Loo evaded tax of $30,786.

    The following year, Looi again made a false entry by stating that he only made about $18,200 in net profit. The truth was that profit had soared to over $236,000, and Looi had evaded tax of about $34,600.

    Looi, who admitted guilt, pleaded for leniency stating that he had followed the wrong advice of his book-keeper.

    After an Iras raid on his business, Looi said he opened his books and cooperated fully with tax investigators. He also cited health problems of high blood pressure, and that his business needed him, to convince the court that he should not be sent to jail.

    But District Judge Aedit Abdullah agreed with the prosecution that there is a need for general deterrence against tax evaders. Tax evasion amounted to fraud against the Government, he said.

    Looi pleaded guilty to two charges of tax evasion and was jailed two weeks. He was also ordered to pay a tax penalty of $196,195, three times the amount of tax he had evaded in 2005 and 2006.

    Four other charges of tax evasion were withdrawn after Looi paid nearly $300,000 to compound them.

    Before he was led off to serve time behind bars, Indonesian-born Looi signed a cheque for the amount and got a friend to deliver it to the Iras.

    Looi uses a well-guarded recipe of 18 herbs and spices for his curry puffs, sourcing the ingredients directly from his birthplace.

    Last year, Looi told the media he sells about 4,000 curry puffs daily, and more on rainy days "when people are looking for something to warm their stomachs". When the stall first opened in 1980, he sold an average of 500 to 600 daily at 35 cents each.

    Over the years, sales rose steadily and simple calculations would have determined that Looi was indeed operating a highly profitable enterprise.

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally last year noted Tip Top's success and praised the entrepreneurial spirit of Looi's son, Chong Wee, who took the puff to China, opening up four shops in Shenyang and two shops in Harbin.

    The curry puffs were first sold in Looi's Marine Parade bakery in 1976. But because they were so popular, he opened his Ang Mo Kio stall in Block 722 three years later.

    It was business as usual on Friday when Today visited the stall — helpers were hard pressed to keep up with the demands of eager consumers.

    A customer, who declined to be named, said Looi's brush with the law would not affect business too much. "As long as the food is good, people will still buy," said the man in his 50s.

    His friend quipped, as he bit into a crunchy puff: "Looi is always in the news. This publicity could well give a further boost to his business."

    Looi, of course, may well decide to be more guarded with production figures. He might no longer want to divulge how many puffs he sells a day.


  2. #2
    one hawker down, more to go

  3. #3
    Club VR Member c1em3ntchua's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
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    tax just pay la.. suay

  4. #4
    kum lan go disclose all his sales details to reporters.

  5. #5
    a small kid Small_Kid's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    WHAT the hwat !! currypuff can earn so much?

  6. #6
    Registered User
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    Jul 2003
    Happiness is all in your mind.
    Ang mo kio mah, pm lee's ward. Got to be squeaky clean right?

  7. #7
    Registered User
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    Jun 2005
    The Lost Valley
    /me go start learning to make curry puff
    "Now, now, my good man, this is no time for making enemies." -- Voltaire His last words on his death bed when asked by a priest to renounce Satan.

  8. #8
    twintails fetish currylicious's Avatar
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    Feb 2006
    Down Under
    ah one of my fav curry puff
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    bro, curry puff no business ?..

    just look @ old chang kee's trio puffs, A1's curry puff haven..
    A forum post should be like a skirt. Long enough to cover the subject material, but short enough to keep things interesting.

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  10. #10
    LosT AnD NeVeR FounD Rubed0's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by c1em3ntchua
    tax just pay la.. suay
    When u are paying in amts like over 10k and above see u will siam anot lo lol! Somemore izt like u lose tat sum of money for no reason , izt ur hard earned money and u have to giv it jus like tat to the gov??? siao bo , if i were him can siam how long i oso siam how long le =\
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  11. #11
    Dubby. DiGdUb's Avatar
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    Mar 2003
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    kay kiang.

  12. #12
    i think is PM LEE exposed tt guy
    Whatever floats your boat...

  13. #13
    wah so rich

  14. #14
    I like his curry puff, not as oily compared to others.


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  15. #15
    In 2005, Looi declared just over $6,000 in net profit

    That means he made only $500 profit every month - isn't that too far fetched for such a succcessful stall? want to cheat also not so far fetched ..

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