Company director, 35, allegedly collected more than $64,000 of kickbacks from foreign workers

SINGAPORE - A company director has been charged over the collection of more than $64,000 in kickbacks from 21 foreign workers as a condition for their employment with the company.

Chen Quan, who is a Singapore permanent resident, was also charged on Tuesday (Oct 31) at the State Courts for defaulting on more than $32,000 of his workers' salaries.

In total, the managing director of Hong Lu Engineering and managing director of Trusty Aluminium faces 21 counts for kickback offences and 45 counts for failure to pay salaries.

His employee, 29-year-old Bangladeshi Monir Hossain Abdul Malek, was also charged with 21 counts for helping Chen to collect the kickbacks.

Monir was then employed as a construction worker under Hong Lu Engineering.

In a press release on Thursday, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said the case first came to light in September 2016 when some of the affected workers approached the ministry for assistance.

MOM's investigations revealed that Chen received monthly payment ranging from $2,500 to $3,600 from his foreign workers at Hong Lu between May 2015 and February 2016.

As the managing director of Trusty Aluminium, Chen had allegedly received monthly payments between $2,500 and $4,000 from September 2015 to July 2016.

The kickback monies totalling $64,600 were collected by Monir, allegedly under Chen's instructions.

Investigations also revealed that Chen had failed to pay basic salaries and overtime pay to 10 foreign workers, amounting to more than $32,000.

The collection of kickbacks as a condition or financial guarantee for employment is prohibited under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, said MOM.

If convicted, Chen may be jailed for up to two years, fined up to $30,000 or both. Monir faces the same penalties for abetting the collection of kickbacks.

If convicted of failure to pay workers' salaries, Chen may be jailed for up to six months, fined up to $15,000, or both.

MOM said that foreign workers who are pressured into giving kickbacks should seek help by calling its hotline on 6438-5122 or the Migrant Workers' Centre on 6536-2692.

The ministry also said that people who know of affected workers or employers who contravene the law should report the matter to MOM on 6438-5122.