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Illegal employment, false declarations: 27 syndicate members arrested for suspected employment offences

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A total of 27 people were arrested this week for their involvement in a syndicate that brings foreign workers illegally into Singapore.

The offences include illegal employment, making false declaration in work pass applications and inflation of a firm’s migrant worker quota by making Central Provident Fund contributions to Singaporeans not working for the company, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Saturday.

In a two-day islandwide enforcement operation that ended on Wednesday, MOM officers raided 19 locations, including food stalls, residences and an office belonging to the suspects, who had allegedly brought in 290 migrant workers through fraudulent means.

A total of 80 digital devices, such as laptops, mobile phones and storage devices, as well as payment records, were seized during the raids.

Investigations into the arrested individuals are ongoing, said MOM.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, MOM confirmed that all 27 people arrested were part of a syndicate.

“The syndicate makes CPF contributions to Singaporeans to fraudulently inflate the shell companies’ quota to hire foreigners. These Singaporeans, or ‘phantom workers’, are not employed by these companies,” said the ministry.

Based on the inflated quota, the companies would apply for work passes for the foreigners through false declarations. These foreigners would then enter and remain in Singapore via these illegally obtained work passes.

“MOM takes a serious view of attempts to evade work pass controls set up to manage the number and criteria of foreigners permitted to work in Singapore and complement the local workforce, and will apprehend and prosecute such offenders,” said Ms Jeanette Har, director of investigation at MOM’s foreign manpower management division.

The ministry reiterated that all employers and work pass applicants must make accurate, complete and truthful declarations to the Controller of Work Passes in work pass applications under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA).

A total of 80 digital devices such as laptops, mobile phones and storage devices, as well as payment records, were seized during the raids. PHOTOS: MINISTRY OF MANPOWER

 

Making false declarations in relation to applications for work passes is a serious offence, it said. Those convicted of such offences can be fined up to $20,000, or jailed for up to 2 years, or both.

Errant employers will also have their work pass privileges suspended, and the work pass applicant may be prosecuted and permanently barred from working in Singapore.

Based on the inflated quota, the companies would apply for work passes for the foreigners through false declarations. PHOTOS: MINISTRY OF MANPOWER

 

Employers who hire foreign employees without valid work passes may be liable to a fine of at least $5,000 and not exceeding $30,000, jailed for up to 12 months, or both, per charge. They will also be barred from employing foreigners.

Foreigners who undertake employment without a valid work pass may be liable to a fine not exceeding $20,000, a jail term of up to two years, or both. Upon conviction, they will be permanently barred from working in Singapore.

Members of the public who are aware of suspicious employment activities such as companies employing foreigners without valid work passes, people receiving CPF contributions from unknown companies, or know of people or employers who contravene the EFMA should report the matter by contacting MOM on 6438-5122 or at mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg

crimeMinistry of ManpowerEmployment