53-year-old Singaporean, Mui Chee Mun, was sentenced in the State Courts to 36 months’ imprisonment for fraudulently obtaining work passes for 37 foreign workers for a company that was not in operation, and to 24 weeks’ imprisonment for collecting kickbacks from them to prevent their work passes from being cancelled. Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has also permanently barred him from employing foreign workers.
In a press release, MOM called Mui "the mastermind of the employment scam".
He was charged with a total of 74 counts under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA) - 37 counts for obtaining work passes for foreign workers for a business that was not in operation, and 37 counts for collecting monies from foreign workers in consideration for their continued employment. He pleaded guilty to the charges on 18 August 2016.
MOM's investigations revealed that Mui managed a shell company, Blue Apple Design, for the sole purpose of bringing in foreign workers with no intention of providing work for them. He used the details of the company’s registered director without the latter’s knowledge to apply for work passes. He also made CPF contributions to local “phantom workers”, fabricated employment contracts and salary vouchers to avoid detection and to give the impression that he was operating a genuine company.
Based on the false information, Mui managed to fraudulently obtain work passes for 37 foreign workers between May 2014 and February 2015. He subsequently collected monthly kickbacks from each foreign worker to ensure their work passes were not cancelled, and then released them to seek their own employment illegally. He made more than $46,000 in kickbacks from the foreign workers.
MOM found Mui had an accomplice in the scam, who has been jailed for 18 weeks. Mui collected the kickbacks through a Bangladeshi released worker, Reza Salim, paying him a monthly salary of S$1,200 for his services. Reza also recommended friends and relatives to Mui to enter Singapore as released workers.
Reza was charged with 31 counts of abetting Mui to collect kickbacks. He pleaded guilty to 11 charges, with the remaining charges taken into consideration. In addition to the imprisonment, he has been permanently barred from working in Singapore.
Kandhavel Periyasamy, director of employment inspectorate at MOM’s Foreign Manpower Management Division, commented on the case: "The accused had devised an elaborate scam to cheat MOM to approve work passes for work that was non-existent, and subsequently profited by collecting kickbacks from the foreign workers. These are serious offences as they severely undermine our work pass controls. We will continue to investigate and take strong enforcement action against such individuals."
Under the EFMA, it is an offence to obtain work passes for foreign employees for a business that does not exist and with no intention of providing work for them. Offenders will be sentenced to imprisonment for six months or more, and face a fine of up to $6,000 for each offence. If convicted for six or more charges, caning will also be imposed.
It is also an offence under the EFMA to demand or receive from a foreign employee monies or other benefits as a condition or financial guarantee for his/her employment. Offenders can be imprisoned for up to two years, or fined up to $30,000, or both. Employers are also prohibited from recovering employment-related costs such as levies and other fees from foreign employees.
Photo / 123RF