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27 individuals arrested in Singapore for allegedly hiring "phantom" local workers

27 individuals arrested in Singapore for allegedly hiring "phantom" local workers

The syndicate was also found to be making CPF contributions for these "phantom workers", thus inflating the shell companies' foreign worker quota.

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has arrested 27 individuals for suspected involvement in a series of employment-related offences.

In an update on Saturday (20 May 2023), the Ministry said these individuals were suspected of partaking in illegal employment, making false declarations in work pass applications, and inflating a firm's migrant worker quota by making CPF contributions for Singaporeans not working for the company. They were arrested as part of a two-day islandwide enforcement operation from 16 to 17 May.

As part of the operation, MOM officers raided 19 locations, including food stalls, residences, and an office belonging to the accused persons who had allegedly brought in 290 migrant workers through fraudulent means. A total of 80 digital devices such as laptops, mobile phones, and storage devices, as well as payment records, were seized during the raids, and investigations against the arrested persons are ongoing.

According to MOM, the syndicate was found to be making CPF contributions for Singaporeans, to fraudulently inflate the shell companies' foreign worker quota. However, these Singaporeans, also dubbed by the Ministry as "phantom workers", are not employed by these companies. 

With the inflated foreign worker quota on hand, the companies would then apply for work passes for foreigners through false declarations, following which the foreigners would enter and remain in Singapore on illegal terms.

Penalties for such actions

Under Singapore's Employment of Foreign Manpower Act [EFMA], all employers and work pass applicants are to make accurate, complete, and truthful declarations to the Controller of Work Pass; and any false declarations relating to work pass applications are deemed a serious offence.

If convicted, an offender could face a fine of up to S$20,000, be jailed for up to two years, or both. Additionally, errant employers will have their work pass privileges suspended, and the work pass applicant may also be prosecuted and be permanently barred from working in Singapore.

The Ministry also reminded that employers who hire foreign employees without valid work passes may be liable to a fine of at least S$5,000 and not exceeding S$30,000, imprisonment for up to 12 months, or both, per charge. They will also be barred from employing foreigners.

MOM urged members of the public who are aware of suspicious employment activities – such as companies employing foreigners without valid work passes, persons receiving CPF contributions from unknown companies, or know of persons or employers who contravene the EFMA – to come forward and report the matter to MOM at 64385122 or mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg. All information that is shared will be kept strictly confidential, it added.

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Photo: Shutterstock

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