Briton fined $6,500 for working in Singapore without valid work pass

Stuart Calum Arthur Alistair pleaded guilty to one count of working for a news agency while he was a long-term visit pass holder. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A 36-year-old Briton was fined $6,500 on Tuesday (May 17) after he was found guilty of working here as a freelance producer between November 2015 and July 2016 without a valid work pass.

Stuart Calum Arthur Alistair had pleaded guilty to one count of working for news agency Thomson Reuters, now known as Refinitiv Asia, while he was a long-term visit pass holder.

A long-term visit pass holder can work here only if he has a work pass or a letter of consent issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Refinitiv Asia was fined $5,500 for employing Stuart despite knowing that he did not have a valid work pass.

A second charge which involves him working as a freelance writer for Yahoo! Singapore's news website between June and August 2015 without a valid work pass was taken into consideration for sentencing.

Muhammad Firdianshah Salimat, 30, who introduced Stuart to Yahoo!, was fined $4,000 for his role in abetting the foreigner.

The court heard that Stuart married Singaporean activist Kirsten Han in 2014 and was issued a short-term pass followed by a long-term pass between November 2015 and March 2019.

In August 2015, Refinitiv offered Stuart a job as assistant producer for a year - which involved him helping with video production - with a salary of $4,500 a month.

He agreed to the offer but did not sign the contract.

Refinitiv applied for an employment pass on his behalf in August that year but it was rejected by MOM a month later.

The company then applied for a letter of consent which would allow him to work for the news agency, but this was also rejected in December 2015.

While waiting for the letter of consent application to be approved, Refinitiv offered him freelance television and video production work for the same salary of $4,500 a month.

He took up the offer and worked for Refinitiv for more than six months from Nov 25, 2015, to July 8, 2016, and was paid a total of $30,375 for his services.

The accused also worked as a freelance writer for Yahoo! Singapore, where he was paid $100 for each article published.

To get this job, he liaised with Firdianshah who helps online publications connect with freelance writers.

During the negotiation, Stuart told Firdianshah about not having a valid work pass, but the latter still chose to offer him the job.

Stuart on June 27, 2015, signed the employment agreement, which stated that he had to provide three to five pieces of original writing every weekday to Firdianshah, who would vet the pieces before submitting them to Yahoo!.

Stuart earned $700 from writing seven articles between June and August 2015 while Firdianshah received $350.

For each count of working in Singapore without a work pass, Stuart could have been fined up to $20,000 and jailed for up to two years.

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