A Singaporean man who brought in 30 Chinese nationals to work for a non-existent construction company has been jailed for more than two years.
Lim Kien Peng, 46, obtained work passes for them between May and November 2013 on the pretext of employing them at MNF Investments and Holdings, of which he was director. But the company was a shell with no projects or contracts and Lim had no intention of providing work for them.
The workers were left to fend for themselves and had to seek employment elsewhere.
Lim was promised $30,000 for his part in the scam, though he never received it. He was charged with 30 counts of obtaining work passes for foreigners for a non-existent business and convicted on five of them.
He was jailed for 27 months on Tuesday, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said yesterday. The ministry added that as there was no evidence to suggest that the workers were complicit in the scam, it did not take action against them.
All 30 have been sent back to China. Investigations revealed that two were made to pay $8,000 each to obtain work passes through Lim.
For each offence, Lim could have been jailed for at least six months and fined up to $6,000.
If convicted of six or more charges, he would have been liable for caning. He has since been permanently barred from employing foreign workers.
Mr Kevin Teoh, divisional director of MOM's Foreign Manpower Management Division, said: "This is one of the more severe cases involving the setting up of a shell company... A strong deterrence is necessary."
Two years ago, the MOM dismantled three syndicates involved in setting up seven shell companies to bring in about 500 foreign workers. Last July, 41 people involved in a similar syndicate were arrested.