A Singaporean, Mui Chee Mun (53), was sentenced in the State Courts on 6 December to 36 months’ imprisonment for fraudulently obtaining work passes for 37 foreign workers, for a company that was not in operation, and to 24 weeks’ imprisonment for collecting kickbacks from the workers by threatening their work passes to being cancelled, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) informed in its press release today (7 Dec).
The sum of his sentence is three and half years of imprisonment and MOM has also permanently barred him from employing foreign workers.
Mui, allegedly the mastermind of the employment scam, was charged with a total of 74 counts under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA). He has pleaded guilty to the charges on 18 August 2016.
Investigations revealed that Mui managed a shell company, Blue Apple Design Pte Ltd, for the sole purpose of bringing in foreign workers with no intention of providing work for them. Mui used the details of the company’s registered director without the latter’s knowledge to apply for work passes.
The MOM explained that Mui signed the application forms in the name of the registered director, declaring that the foreign workers would be employed by the company as construction workers and electricians. Mui also made CPF contributions to local ‘phantom workers’, fabricated employment contracts and salary vouchers to avoid detection and to give the impression that he was operating a genuine company.
Using the false information, Mui had managed to obtain work passes for 37 foreign workers between May 2014 and February 2015. He subsequently collected monthly kickbacks from each foreign worker to ensure their work passes were not cancelled, and then released them to seek their own employment illegally. Mui had made more than $46,000 in kickbacks from the foreign workers.
The MOM stated that Mui had collected the kickbacks through Reza Salim (42), a Bangladeshi released worker, whom Mui employed to assist him. Reza also recommended friends and relatives to Mui to enter Singapore as released workers. He was paid a monthly salary of $1,200 for the services provided.
Reza was charged with 31 counts of helping Mui. He pleaded guilty to 11 charges, with the remaining charges taken into consideration, and was sentenced on 22 July 2016 to 18 weeks’ imprisonment. He has been permanently barred from working in Singapore.
Mr Kandhavel Periyasamy, Director of Employment Inspectorate at MOM’s Foreign Manpower Management Division, said, “The accused had devised an elaborate scam to cheat MOM to approve work passes for work that was non-existent, and subsequently profited by collecting kickbacks from the foreign workers. These are serious offenses as they severely undermine our work pass controls. We will continue to investigate and take strong enforcement action against such individuals.”
Under the EFMA, it is an offense to obtain work passes for foreign employees for a business that does not exist and with no intention of providing any work for the employees. Offenders will be sentenced to imprisonment for six months or more, and face a fine of up to $6,000 for each offense. If convicted for six or more charges, caning will also be imposed, the MOM stated.
According to MOM, It is also an offense under the EFMA to receive or demand from a foreign employee monies or other benefits as a condition or financial guarantee for his employment. Wrongdoer can be imprisoned for up to two years, or fined up to $30,000, or both. It is also illegal for employers to collect employment-related costs such as levies and other fees from foreign employees.
The MOM asked members of the public who know of persons or employers who violate the EFMA to report the matter to MOM at 6438 5122 or e-mail [email protected] All information will be kept strictly confidential, the MOM assured.