A 53-year-old Singaporean was sentenced to three years in jail on Tuesday for fraudulently obtaining work passes for 37 foreign workers through a shell company.
Mui Chee Mun was also given a further 24 weeks in jail for collecting more than $46,000 in kickbacks from them, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a statement yesterday. It also permanently barred him from employing foreign workers.
Investigations found that he managed shell company Blue Apple Designsolely to bring in foreign workers, with no intention of providing work. Unknown to the firm's registered director, he used the director's details to apply for work passes for foreign workers. He signed the application forms in the director's name, declaring that the workers would be employed by the company.
To give the impression that he was running a real firm, Mui made Central Provident Fund contributions to local "phantom workers" and created fake job contracts and salary vouchers. He thus fraudulently obtained work passes for 37 workers between May 2014 and February last year.
He collected monthly kickbacks from them to ensure their work passes were not cancelled, and released them to find employment illegally.
Mui was charged with a total of 74 counts under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act and pleaded guilty on Aug 18. His accomplice, a Bangladeshi worker who had also been released to seek employment on his own illegally, was sentenced to 18 weeks in jail on July 22 and permanently barred from working here.
Mui paid Reza Salim $1,200 a month to help collect kickbacks and recommend friends to enter Singapore as "released workers" who would have to find jobs illegally.
Reza, 42, faced 31 counts of abetting Mui to collect kickbacks and pleaded guilty to 11 charges.
Mr Kandhavel Periyasamy, director of the employment inspectorate at MOM's foreign manpower management division, said Mui's offences were serious "as they severely undermine our work pass controls".
"We will continue to investigate and take strong enforcement action against such individuals."
In 2014 and last year, a total of 14 individuals were prosecuted for illegally bringing in foreign workers.
Such scams "typically involve syndicates and masterminds who devise elaborate plans to cover their tracks", said an MOM spokesman.
For obtaining work passes for foreign workers for a business that is not in operation, offenders can be jailed for six months or more and fined up to $6,000 for each offence.
For collecting monies from foreign workers as a condition for their employment, offenders can be jailed for up to two years, fined up to $30,000, or both.