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Three male Chinese nationals jailed six months each for harbouring immigration offenders

Two male Chinese nationals were sentenced to six months’ imprisonment each on 2 August 2018 for harbouring two immigration offenders. The other male Chinese national was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment on 14 September 2018.

In a press release by Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) on Wednesday (19 September), states that investigations revealed that two Chinese nationals, Xu Xiangjie, aged 35 and Song Weijia aged 23 had decided to rent a flat and sublet it to women engaging in vice activities.

Xu and Song enlisted another Chinese national Ma Zhiwen, aged 32, to sign the tenancy agreement for a flat and Ma was promised S$250 to use his name on the tenancy agreement.

According to the authority, on 3 January 2018, Ma signed the tenancy agreement with the housing agent who represented the owner of the unit. Thereafter, Xu took over the house keys and began advertising the unit for rent on WeChat. Xu then rented two of the bedrooms to two female Chinese nationals, 33-year-old Cheng Minmin and 36-year-old Dong Yuxia for a daily fee of RMB500 each and instructed them to transfer the rental fee to Song. Both Cheng and Dong had remained unlawfully in Singapore after the expiry of their Passes.

Although Xu and Song knew that Cheng and Dong were foreigners, they did not exercise due diligence by carrying out the checks required under the law before allowing them to stay at the unit. Ma, who had assisted Xu and Song to sign the tenancy agreement, is also culpable as he did not carry out the due diligence checks and provided shelter to the two immigration offenders.

The two immigration offenders have been dealt with.

ICA stressed that it takes a firm stance against any person who employs or harbours immigration offenders. Those who wish to rent their premises must exercise due diligence in checking the status of their prospective foreign tenants to ensure that their status in Singapore is legal.

They are required to conduct the three mandatory checks, which are:

  • Checking the tenant’s  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 (i.e. MOM for work passes and ICA for other immigration passes such as Student’s Pass and Long Term Visit Pass).

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