Company director charged with illegal labour importation, collecting kickbacks

SINGAPORE - The director of Aik Heng Contracts and Services has been charged with the illegal importation of labour and the collection of kickbacks, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a statement to the media on Monday (Sept 4).

On Aug 29, MOM charged the 42-year-old director, Poh Kwi Ko, for offences under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. She faces a total of 42 charges.

Ten charges are over the illegal importation of labour, 19 charges are over receiving and demanding kickbacks, and 13 charges are over the abetment of foreign workers to be self-employed foreigners without valid work passes.

A total of 24 foreign workers were allegedly involved.

Investigations showed that between December 2014 and March 2016, Poh allegedly obtained work passes for 10 foreign workers, even though she knew there was no work for them.

She then told them to find their own employment.

During this period, she also allegedly committed kickback offences amounting to about $156,000 and involving 19 foreign workers.

If convicted of the illegal importation of labour, Poh can be imprisoned for at least six months and fined up to $6,000 for each charge.

For collecting kickbacks, she can be fined up to $30,000, or jailed for up to two years, or both, per charge.

MOM has also barred her company from hiring foreign workers.

MOM said on Monday that it takes a serious view of illegal labour importation and kickback offences, and will prosecute employers involved in such activities.

In December last year, 53-year-old Mui Chee Mun was sentenced to 24 weeks' imprisonment for collecting $46,000 in kickbacks from 37 foreign workers.

In May this year, Chew Sin Jit, 51, was sentenced to a fine of $144,000 and jail term of 60 weeks. He illegally brought in 46 foreign workers without providing work for them.

MOM added that foreign workers whose employers tell them to find their own work or pressure them into giving kickbacks should go to MOM for assistance.

They can also go to the Migrant Workers' Centre in Serangoon Road.

Members of the public who know of foreign workers facing such issues should also report the matter to MOM. All information will be kept strictly confidential.