Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has convicted Lim Leong Chye of illegally importing foreign workers, collecting kickbacks and instigating others to make false declarations to MOM.
Lim has been sentenced to 16 months' jail and fined $35,000.
According to a press release from MOM, the managing director of Club De Colors and manager of Club GMT, gained profits amounting to S$97,550 after soliciting payments of between S$460 and S$10,000 from every one of 16 foreign workers as a condition of their employment.
Lim also obtained work passes for 11 foreign workers and they were told to find their own employment in Singapore. One foreign worker was subsequently arrested by the police for vice activities.
“This is a serious case of abusing the work pass system," said Kevin Teoh, divisional director of MOM’s foreign manpower management division.
"The circumstances of this case are aggravating – there was no work for the workers, monies were collected, and in some cases, thousands of dollars were handed over. Mr Lim also abetted another company in the furnishing of false information to the Ministry."
In addition, Lim instigated a 33-year-old Singaporean, Sim Chee Kiang, the sole proprietor of Club GMT Pte Ltd, to furnish false information to the controller of work passes in the application for foreign workers.
Lim submitted the application forms containing false information to MOM.
"Out of the 39 charges, 11 charges were for obtaining work passes for foreign workers without the intention of employing them and subsequently not providing them with actual employment (illegal importation of labour), 16 charges were for collecting monies from the foreign workers as a consideration for their employment (kickbacks), 8 charges were for instigating another person to submit false information to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to apply for work passes, and another 4 charges were for making false declarations to MOM to obtain work passes," the press release stated.
MOM added it takes a serious view of employers who bring in foreign workers without intending to provide work for them. It explained offenders face a mandatory six-month jail term, up to two years, and a fine of up to $6,000 for each worker issued with a work pass.
Caning may also be imposed when six or more workers are involved.
"This issue is a serious one as illegal workers are not covered by the Employment Act and will have no legal recourse in the event they aren’t paid or are injured during the course of their employment," Mervin Chui, managing director of ZW HR Consulting told Human Resources.
"While it may be an attractive proposition to hire an illegal worker due to the low costs, my advice to prospective employers would be to resist that temptation as the penalties for doing so are stiff and they run the risk of losing the entire business if caught."