A Singaporeans businessman has been sentenced to three months in prison and fined $90,000 for hiring foreign employees without valid work passes.

Neo Wee Seng, director of Rajdhani Restaurant & Catering Pte Ltd, was convicted in the Subordinate Courts last week for hiring foreign employees without having their work passes in place.

He has previously been convicted of five counts of illegal employment, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a press release, meaning he faces stricter penalties under the revised Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA), which came into effect in November 2012.

Neo pleaded guilty to four charges of employing four foreigners without valid work passes as food packers as his restaurant, and two charges of illegally employing two foreigners as stall assistants as his firm, Shamima Enterprise.

He also illegally employed 10 other foreigners for jobs such as a barber and shop assistant.

The Court sentenced Neo to three months’ imprisonment and a $90,000 fine or in default six months’ imprisonment for the six proceeded charges.

MOM has issued a stern warning to the 16 foreigners who were illegally employed. They will be sent home and banned from returning to Singapore to work.

Under the EFMA, employers are not allowed to hire any foreigner without first obtaining a valid work pass from MOM. Employers who break the law can be prosecuted, and will be subjected upon conviction to a fine of between $5,000 and $30,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months for first-time offenders. They may also be barred from employing foreigners in future.

In 2012, 74 errant employers were convicted of illegal employment, while 98 employers were convicted last year.