Syndicate involved in illegal import of workers smashed, 44 arrested: Manpower Ministry

An arrested syndicate member being taken back for investigations.
An arrested syndicate member being taken back for investigations. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF MANPOWER
An arrested syndicate member being taken back for investigations.
An arrested syndicate member being taken back for investigations. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF MANPOWER
Work permit cards and name lists seized in the two-day operation.
Work permit cards and name lists seized in the two-day operation. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF MANPOWER
A handphone, salary vouchers and OneKey tokens seized in the two-day operation.
A handphone, salary vouchers and OneKey tokens seized in the two-day operation. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF MANPOWER

SINGAPORE - A syndicate which brought in foreign workers for illegal employment has been smashed, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Tuesday (Aug 2).

The ministry said in a press release it had mounted an islandwide two-day enforcement operation against the syndicate last week.

Taking place at several locations which included offices, residential units and construction sites, the operation yielded the arrests of 44 people.

They comprised six alleged members of the syndicate and 38 foreign workers.


An arrested syndicate member being taken back for investigations. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF MANPOWER

Items such as work permit cards, name lists of workers, and SingPass tokens were seized, MOM added.

Elaborating on how such syndicates operate, the ministry said they would typically set up shell companies and hire "fall guys" with no knowledge of what the company does as directors.

Their SingPass accounts are subsequently used to make fraudulent work pass applications, while the syndicates collect large amounts of kickbacks from the foreign workers brought in.

As there is no actual employment, the foreign workers are released to find their own employment, with many conspiring with the syndicates by willingly paying the kickbacks in order to obtain a work pass to stay in Singapore.

They would then find their own employment via illegal means.

Mr Kevin Teoh, divisional director of MOM's Foreign Manpower Management Division, said: "MOM takes a serious view of bringing in foreign workers without a job and allowing these foreign workers to find their own employment.

"We will take offenders to task, and will continue our efforts to detect and take down syndicates that perpetuate such offences."

MOM said it conducted four major operations last year against such syndicates. They had set up four companies and brought in about 300 workers.

A total of 12 syndicate members were arrested.

Those convicted of illegal labour importation could face a jail term of between six months and two years, and a fine of up to $6,000 per charge. Caning is also involved in more severe cases.

Employers who hire foreign workers seeking illegal employment face a fine of between $5,000 and $30,000, and/or up to 12 months' imprisonment.

Main contractors to have illegal workers at their worksites are liable to be fined up to $15,000 and/or jailed up to 12 months.