44 arrested for bringing in foreign workers for illegal employment in Singapore

Added On August 2, 2016

 SINGAPORE, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- A total of 44 persons were arrested for bringing in foreign workers for illegal employment in Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower said in a statement on Tuesday.

The 44, comprising six alleged members of a syndicate and 38 foreign workers, were arrested during an island-wide enforcement operation from July 26 to 27. Items such as work permit cards, name lists of workers and Singpass tokens were seized. Investigations are currently ongoing.
According to the ministry, syndicates that illegally bring in foreign labour would typically set up shell companies, hire fall guys as directors and misuse their Singpass accounts to make fraudulent work pass applications. They obtain the quota to employ foreign workers using "phantom workers." The fall guys would usually have no knowledge of what the company does. The syndicates would then collect large amounts of kickbacks from the foreign workers, hence making significant illegal monies in the process.
As there is no actual employment, the foreign workers are then released to find their own employment. Many of them conspire with the syndicates, and willingly pay large amounts of kickbacks to be part of the scam, in order to obtain a work pass to stay in Singapore. They would then find their own employment illegally.
Commenting on the operations, Mr Kevin Teoh, Divisional Director of MOM's Foreign Manpower Management Division, said "MOM takes a serious view of bringing in foreign workers without a job and allowing these foreign workers to find their own employment. We will take offenders to task, and will continue our efforts to detect and take down syndicates that perpetuate such offences."
He added that if convicted, employers can be imprisoned up to two years, fined up to 6,000 Singapore dollars (4,478 U.S. dollars) per charge and caned as well.
"Employers and main contractors must do their due diligence to ensure that all foreign workers at their worksites have valid work passes. It is illegal to hire foreign workers who are released by their official employers to find their own work," he said.
In 2015, MOM conducted four major operations against syndicates involved in the illegal importation of labour. These syndicates had set up four companies and had brought in approximately 300 workers. A total of 12 syndicate members were arrested.