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Singaporean man convicted for subletting apartment unit to overstayer

A 39-year-old male Singaporean was convicted and sentenced to four weeks’ imprisonment and a fine of $16,000 in default of eight weeks’ imprisonment for offences under the Immigration Act and Women’s Charter on Monday (20 August).

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said on Wednesday (29 August) that investigations revealed that Ong Ee Meng had sublet an apartment unit to a 43-year-old female Chinese national overstayer, Liu Hui, knowing that she would be staying and using the premises to provide sexual services.

The authority noted that Liu has been dealt with for her overstaying offence, and has since been repatriated.

According to ICA, Liu arrived in Singapore on 11 March 2018 to work as a performing artiste but chose to work as a freelance masseur. She continued to remain in Singapore to work illegally upon the expiry of her visit pass on 25 March 2018.

On 26 April 2018, ICA said that its officers conducted a check at the apartment unit and arrested Liu, who had overstayed in Singapore for 32 days. ICA officers also arrested Ong for harbouring her.

Ong claimed that Liu told him she was in Singapore on a two-year singer’s permit, but did not ask her for her work pass or passport for verification. Ong also knew that Liu was using the premises for vice activities admitted to have engaged her services.

The authority said that as Ong did not conduct any due diligence checks, he had committed an offence of harbouring an immigration offender recklessly under the Immigration Act. He had also committed offences under the Women’s Charter.

ICA stressed that it takes a serious view of attempts to overstay, enter or depart Singapore illegally. Under the Immigration Act (Cap 133), the penalties for overstaying or illegal entry are a jail term of up to six months plus a minimum of three strokes of the cane.

Homeowners are advised to exercise due diligence in checking the status of their prospective foreign tenants to ensure that their status in Singapore is legal. Those who wish to rent their premises to foreigners are required to conduct the three mandatory checks, which are checking his/her original immigration/work pass, cross checking the particulars on his/her pass against the particulars on his/her original passport, and verifying the validity of his/her pass by checking with the issuing authority.

ICA said that if the homeowner is found guilty of recklessly (i.e. carrying out only one of the three due diligence checks) or knowingly harbouring overstayers and/or illegal immigrants, he may be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not less than six months and not more than two years and a fine not exceeding S$6,000.

If a homeowner is found guilty of negligently (i.e. carrying out only two of the three due diligence checks) harbouring overstayers and/or illegal immigrants, the homeowner may be sentenced to a fine not exceeding S$6,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.