MOM cracks down on illegal labour importation syndicate

13 arrested during simultaneous operations

MOM cracks down on illegal labour importation syndicate
Thirteen persons – including 10 foreign workers – were arrested on Wednesday after the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) carried out simultaneous operations across Singapore to dismantle a syndicate involved in setting up shell companies used for bringing in foreign workers for illegal employment.

Authorities inspected residential units, office premises, and workers’ quarters during the operation that lasted more than 18 hours. It covered locations such as Jalan Besar, Little India and Toa Payoh.  

Among other things, they managed to confiscate NRICs, mobile phones, name lists of workers, bank transaction receipts, Singpass tokens as well as employment documents. Investigations are ongoing.
According to the ministry, syndicates such as the one taken down last Wednesday would typically set up companies with no actual business operations.

 “They would hire fall guys as directors of these shell companies, and misuse their Singpass accounts to make fraudulent work pass applications,” said MOM. “These syndicates obtain the quota to employ foreign workers using ‘phantom local workers’ and profit from collecting large amounts of kickbacks from the foreign workers. As there is no actual employment, the foreign workers are released to find their own employment.”

Over the past two years, the ministry conducted six major operations against syndicates involved in the illegal importation of labour. It said these syndicates had set up nine companies and had brought in approximately 700 workers. A total of 19 syndicate members were arrested.

Shell companies put up by the syndicates put foreign workers at risk, as they don’t provide basic care and protection such as medical care, insurance protection and accommodation, according to the ministry.

“MOM does not condone anyone who blatantly disregards our work pass controls to profit from the illegal importation of labour. MOM will continue with our efforts to dismantle syndicates that perpetuate such offences.  Strong enforcement action will be taken against those responsible, said Kevin Teoh, Divisional Director of MOM’s Foreign Manpower Management Division.

Related stories:
Singaporean sentenced to 5 years in jail, fined $144K over work pass scam
Firm, ex-director charged with falsifying work pass applications and taking kickbacks

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