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Photo Credit: Miss Tam Chiak

Company falsely declaring salaries to get employment passes is not a new thing

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Monday (14 January) that the food and beverage behind famous restaurant chain Penang Culture has been fined S$94,500 for falsely declaring salaries in work pass applications.

On 27 December 2018, GD Group was convicted of seven charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, with another 13 taken into consideration during sentencing.

In addition, MOM has also barred the company from hiring foreign employees, it mentioned in its statement.

Investigations found out that GD Group bypassed foreign worker quota rules by hiring foreigners on employment passes, but paying them way lesser than the salaries declared in the work pass applications.

Between February 2013 and July 2015, the company wrongly declared salary amounts of between S$4,000 and S$4,800 for 20 foreign employees to meet the salary requirement for employment passes.

However, the foreigners were only paid between S$1,500 and S$2,200.

GD Group is the owner of Penang Culture, which is known as the first Penang-themed halal restaurant chain in Singapore. It also has a catering arm that offers live food stations at events.

“GD Group had gained an unfair advantage in hiring foreigners at the expense of other firms,” said Kandhavel Periyasamy, MOM’s foreign manpower management division director of employment inspectorate.

He added that the ministry has a duty to protect the interest of law-abiding employers and they will continue to take strict actions against delinquent employers to uphold the integrity of work pass controls.

Under the Employment Manpower Act, those who are found guilty of making false declarations may be fined up to S$20,000 per charge, jailed for up to two years or both. On top of that, these offenders will also be barred from employing new foreign workers or renewing the permits of their existing foreign workers.

Upon reading this news, the majority of netizens feel that GD Group is just one of the many companies in Singapore that is falsely declaring salaries for employment passes.

The fact that netizens think that this case is just the “tip of the iceberg” is not wrong at all.

In 2016, the Executive Director of local fashion house, Yen’s Studio Pte Ltd, Yen Ser Ming, was sentenced to a fine of S$72, 000 in default 18 months imprisonment and the company was barred from hiring any foreign workers. She pleaded guilty to 9 charges for submitting a falsely declaration relating to the company’s foreign employees’ salaries in a work pass application.

In a separate case, Tan Boon Sing, the owner of KT Engineering & Construction Pte Ltd was sentenced in the State Courts in 2016 for falsely declaring salaries to obtain foreign employees. He was fined S$21,000 in default nine weeks’ imprisonment for three charges, with the remaining seven charges taken into consideration.

As such, the case with GD Group is not an isolated one, and it had been happening for years and is still happening.