Jail, fine for 2 men over work permit ruse

An undischarged bankrupt tried to make illegal use of Singapore's tight labour market to make a quick buck.

First, he got companies belonging to his friends to obtain work permits for 32 foreigners. But instead of working for his friends' companies, these foreigners were sent to work for food stall operators in coffee shops and hawker centres, even though these are not allowed to employ foreigners.

Chia Puay Yeoh, the mastermind, then took money from the operators for providing them with the foreign workers.

The 55-year-old was sentenced yesterday to 25 months' jail and a fine of $15,000. He was also ordered to pay $54,490 as a penalty.

Chia pleaded guilty to 16 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. One of his friends, Guay Boon Chwee, 49, who had allowed his company to be used in the ruse, was sentenced to a year's jail and ordered to pay a penalty of $7,000. He admitted to three charges under the Act.

The court heard that Chia asked Guay to register a company some time before Jan 1, 2014.

In their court documents, Ministry of Manpower (MOM) prosecutors A. M. Mohamed Riasudeen and Low Shi Hou stated: "The accused explained to Boon Chwee that the company would be used to sell its work permit quotas to other companies and businesses that needed them."

Chia also promised to pay Guay $1,000 every month for allowing him to use the company.

Guay agreed to be part of the plan and became the registered director of a firm called Hong Kong Street Holding from Jan 1, 2014.

The court heard that a woman identified as Catherine Low Suk Sien, 32, wanted to run her own business selling roasted ducks the following month. The MOM prosecutors said: "Catherine then got to know that the accused would be able to apply work permits for foreigners that she wanted.

"The agreement between the accused and Catherine was that the accused would apply for work permits for the foreigners that Catherine wanted... for a fee of $1,000 per foreign worker and that Catherine would have to pay the foreign worker levies every month."

She had been dealt with in court earlier after admitting to her offences.

Shaffiq Alkhatib

Correction note: This article has been updated to reflect the correct amount that Chia was fined. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2019, with the headline 'Jail, fine for 2 men over work permit ruse'. Print Edition | Subscribe