Construction firm director jailed for 6 weeks for collecting $3,650 of kickbacks from foreign workers

SINGAPORE - The director of a construction firm has been jailed for six weeks for collecting $3,650 of kickbacks from six foreign workers as a condition for letting them continue working for the company, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a press release on Monday (Oct 23).

Yuan Shungao, 46, of Yuan Chun Contractor, was convicted in the State Courts last Thursday. He had been charged with 21 counts under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA).

Yuan and the company have been banned from employing foreign workers.

The arrangement came to light when some of the affected workers approached MOM for help in February.

Investigations showed that Yuan received $200 each from two workers between March and July last year, and $150 each from four others between April and July last year.

He told some of them that if they did not pay up, their work passes would not be renewed.

The money was returned to the workers after MOM intervened.

Mr Kandhavel Periyasamy, director of employment inspectorate at MOM's foreign manpower management division, said: "Demanding kickbacks from foreign workers and threatening to cancel their work pass if they fail to pay is a serious offence. We will take stern action against persons or companies, including barring them from applying for new work passes and renewing their existing work passes."

Collecting kickbacks as a guarantee for employment is illegal under the EFMA, and for each charge, anyone found guilty can be fined up to $30,000, jailed for up to two years, or both.

Foreign workers who find themselves in those situations should call MOM on 6438-5122 or the Migrant Workers' Centre on 6536-2692 for help immediately.

Anyone who knows of employers contravening the EFMA should report it to MOM over the phone, or by sending an e-mail to mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg.

All information will be kept strictly confidential, said the MOM.