Chinese national fined, jailed for illegally subletting house, working without valid work pass and bribery bid

SINGAPORE - A Chinese national was fined $56,620 and sentenced to four weeks' jail on Wednesday (Nov 27) for a series of offences relating to converting a two-storey terrace house he rented into a workers' dormitory.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said in a joint statement on Wednesday that 28-year-old Li Ying was fined $50,620 for converting a private residential property into a dormitory, fined $6,000 being self-employed without a valid work pass, and sent to jail for four weeks for trying to bribe an enforcement officer to not report the number of occupants staying at the house.

He was charged in court in July last year and convicted under the Planning Act, Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA) and Prevention of Corruption Act on Wednesday.

The bribery attempt took place on Feb 24, 2018, when URA engaged auxiliary police officers to inspect the two-storey terraced house in Jalan Kemajuan in MacPherson.

The officers found 15 foreign workers living in the house, which exceeded the occupancy cap of six unrelated persons for private residential properties.

URA investigations revealed that Li, who was a clerk at Intertek Testing Services Singapore at the time, rented the house on a two-year tenancy agreement in April 2017.

He partitioned the house to create more bed spaces, with the intention of subletting them to foreign workers.

Between November 2017 and Feb 24, 2018, Li had sublet bed spaces to up to 21 foreign workers and collected $15,620 in rent.

"Converting a property meant only for residential use into dormitory accommodation constituted a material change in use of the property without planning permission, which is an offence under the Planning Act," the authorities said.

They added that Li also committed an offence under the EFMA as he did not have a valid work pass to rent out bed spaces to foreigners.

During the inspection, Li also offered $100 to a senior enforcement supervisor at Certis to bribe him not to report the number of occupants to URA. The officer rejected the bribe and the case was referred to the CPIB.

In the statement, URA said: "Property owners should exercise due diligence to check that their property is not put to unauthorised uses, such as dormitory accommodation."

Anyone caught flouting the rules can be fined up to $200,000, jailed for up to a year, or both.

Under the EFMA, only foreigners with valid work passes are allowed to work in Singapore, and they are only allowed to work in the occupation, and for the employer, as stated on their work passes.

Foreigners caught without a valid work pass can be fined up to $20,000, jailed for up to two years, or both. Offenders will also be barred from working in Singapore.

The agencies said that they will not hesitate to take action against anyone who blatantly disregard regulations.

They added: "Singapore adopts a zero-tolerance approach towards corruption. The authorities take a serious view of any corrupt practices, and will take action against any party involved in such acts."

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