Firm fined $52k for falsely declaring workers' salaries to MOM

To secure work passes for its foreign employees, a company inflated their monthly salaries in its applications to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). This was to fulfil the minimum salary requirements for the work passes to be granted.

The firm, 7Star Restaurant, was fined $52,000 yesterday after pleading guilty to four charges relating to falsely declaring the salaries of four employees to MOM. Eight other charges, involving the salaries of other employees, were considered during sentencing by District Judge Adam Nakhoda.

At the time of the offences, which took place between 2013 and 2017, the firm operated a restaurant named 7Star Restaurant Indian/Malay Food in Upper Serangoon Road. The Straits Times understands the restaurant has closed.

According to court documents, the firm overstated the salaries of two workers when applying for their S Passes. It did so for one employee in June 2013 and for another in February 2017. 7Star Restaurant declared they were earning $3,000 and $3,150 a month respectively, when they were in fact getting less than half that amount. Mid-level skilled workers are eligible for an S Pass, if they meet certain requirements such as a fixed monthly salary of at least $2,400 a month.

The firm also inflated the monthly salaries of two other employees in its applications, in September 2014 and March 2015 respectively, to renew their work passes. It had stated that one worker, an S Pass holder, was earning $2,900 while the other worker, who was holding an Employment Pass, had a salary of $4,500. Instead, both were earning $1,400 a month each.

Employment Pass holders who are young graduates must earn at least $3,900 a month, among other things. Older and more experienced workers must fulfil a higher minimum salary requirement.

MOM prosecutor Erdiana Hazlina said yesterday that the company never had the intention to pay its workers the declared salaries.

Its director, Mr Subramanian Thiruppathi Raj, also knew that the minimum salary requirement was a "key criterion" in granting the work passes, she added.

While he paid them through cheques reflecting the false salaries every month, the workers had to return the difference between the false amounts and their actual salaries in cash to him. Mr Raj also told them to sign on salary vouchers reflecting the false salaries.

The firm was ordered to pay $13,000 upfront, with the rest of the fine to be paid in instalments over three months. For each of its offences, it could have been fined up to $20,000.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2020, with the headline Firm fined $52k for falsely declaring workers' salaries to MOM. Subscribe