The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is currently investigating 15 work pass holders who declared qualifications from Manav Bharti University in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh after it is reported that the private university had sold 36,000 fake degrees across 17 states in over 11 years and that a number of its graduates are working in Singapore.
According to MOM, the 15 individuals are currently employed in Singapore and had declared qualifications from the university in their work pass applications.
“If found to have falsely declared their educational qualifications, their work passes will be immediately revoked and they will be permanently barred from employment in Singapore,” said an MOM spokesperson in a statement on Wednesday (17 Feb).
MOM said that the employers have the primary responsibility to ensure the “authenticity and quality” of the academic qualifications of the foreigners they wish to hire
Before making a work pass application, the employer should have already evaluated the candidate, including his qualifications, to ensure the applicant has the right skills and qualifications for the position applied.
“The majority of employers take this role seriously as it is in their interest to have a rigorous selection and recruitment process in place to ensure qualified candidates,” said the ministry.
“We scrutinise higher-risk academic institutions, companies and individuals more closely, conduct additional checks and require submission of verification proof of the qualifications declared in selected applications,” it said.
MOM also verifies the authenticity of submitted qualifications directly through the issuing institutions or third-party screening agencies.
“In addition, MOM receives and acts on reports from employers who discover that they have been misled after the work pass holder has arrived.” the ministry added.
MOM will revoke the work passes of foreign employees found to have submitted forged documents in their work pass applications. They will also be permanently barred from working in Singapore.
They may also be prosecuted under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.
If found guilty, they face a fine of up to S$20,000, a jail term of up to two years or both.
MOM said in the last five years, an average of 660 foreigners have been permanently barred each year from working in Singapore for submitting fake education qualifications in their work pass applications.
Over the same period, an average of eight foreigners each year were convicted and penalised by the courts for false declarations of educational qualifications.
Graduates of Indian private university list Singapore as working location
Times of India reported earlier this month that during a routine investigation of a fake degree case, the Indian police had uncovered a much bigger case of an Indian university selling tens of thousands of fake degrees to multitude of people (‘Manav Bharti University of Himachal Pradesh sold 36000 fake‘, 1 Feb).
In fact, of the total 41,000 degrees issued by Manav Bharti University, only 5,000 have been found to be genuine so far. The university is run by the Manav Bharti Charitable Trust,
Police have now initiated the process to extradite trust chairman Raj Kumar Rana, his wife Ashoni Kanwar and daughter Aina Rana — both trustees — and son from Australia. The trust operates private universities in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. It also led to questions if the other universities run by Manav Bharti Charitable Trust are also involved in selling fake degrees.
With the news of the extradition, the Indian Enforcement Directorate had provisionally placed the land, houses and commercial buildings of the trust chairman and his family in Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan as well as bank deposits totaling Rs194.17 crore (S$35 million) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The Indian authorities estimated that Rana and his family had amassed property worth Rs387 crore (S$70 million) from the proceeds of the racket.
The 36,000 fake degrees issued by Manav Bharti University was said to be only the tip of an iceberg, as the number of fake degrees issued is known to be many more. The scam is likely to run into crores of rupees, said the investigation team.
A simple search on Linkedin, a professional connectivity social media site, shows about 19 individuals who graduated from the university and have Singapore listed as their current working location.