On 29 August 2017, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) charged a 42-year-old Singaporean woman, Poh Kwi Ko, the Director of Aik Heng Contracts and Services Pte Ltd, for offences under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA).

Poh faced a total of 42 charges; 10 charges on illegal importation of labour, 19 charges on receiving and demanding kickbacks, and 13 charges on abetting foreign workers to be self-employed foreigners without valid work passes. A total of 24 foreign workers were involved in this case.

If convicted for illegal importation of labour, Poh can be imprisoned for at least six months and fined up to $6,000 for each charge. For collecting kickbacks, she can be fined up to $30,000, or imprisonment for up to two years, or both, per charge. MOM has barred Poh and her company from hiring foreign workers.

Investigations by MOM revealed that between December 2014 and March 2016, Poh obtained work passes for 10 foreign workers despite knowing that there was no work for them and subsequently told them to find their own employment.

During the same period, Poh also committed kickback offences amounting to about $156,000 involving 19 foreign workers.

MOM states that it takes a serious view of illegal labour importation and kickbacks offences and will prosecute employers involved in illegal labour importation and kickback offences.

In May 2017, a 51-year-old Singaporean man, Chew Sin Jit, was sentenced to a fine of $144,000 and 60 weeks’ imprisonment for illegally importing 46 foreign workers without providing work for them. In December 2016, a 53-year-old Singaporean, Mui Chee Mun, was sentenced to 24 weeks’ imprisonment for collecting $46,000 in kickbacks from 37 foreign workers.

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