Singapore's 'largest and most extensive case of false declaration contraventions investigated by MOM to date'
Three companies under the MES Group and four of its former directors have been fined and handed jail time after they were convicted for what has been dubbed Singapore's largest case of false declaration contraventions.
The Mini Environment Service, the Labourtel Management Corporation, and the MES Logistics violated Singapore's Employment of Foreign Manpower Act and the Employment Act, according to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) last week.
Among the offences include the companies' submission of a total of 111 false salary declarations between 2009 and 2019 for Work Permit and S Pass applications or renewals.
Mohamed Jinna Mohamed Abdul Jaleel and Parvis Ahamed Mohamed Ghouse, the directors of the three companies, would also instruct Labourtel director Haja Nawaz as well as MES Logistics and Mini Environment Service director Chew Chain Loon to inflate employees' salaries.
"This enabled the companies to hire more foreign employees than they would otherwise have qualified for," MOM said in a media release.
According to MOM, the inflated amount will be credited into employees' bank accounts, but they would need to return the surplus in cash to Haja and Chew.
The Mini Environment Service also submitted 18 false employment declarations to MOM between 2015 and 2019, according to the ministry.
Haja and Chew, still under Parvis and Jinna's instructions, would also declare Mini Environment Service to be the official employer of foreign employees even if they were made to work various jobs at MES Logistics or Labourtel without valid work passes.
"This allowed the companies to circumvent the work pass quotas that were imposed on each of them," MOM said.
From March to April 2019, Mini Environment Service also made its employees work overtime beyond the 72-hour monthly limit under the Employment Act.
Adrian Quek, Divisional Director of the Foreign Manpower Management Division at MOM, said this is Singapore's "largest and most extensive case of false declaration contraventions investigated" to date.
"The MES Group had failed to protect its employees' well-being by illegally deploying them and subjecting them to overtime work beyond the legal limit. Furthermore, the group had egregiously circumvented our work pass controls, gaining an unfair commercial advantage over other companies," Quek said in a statement.
Penalties for offenders
As a result, the Jinna received 42 weeks of imprisonment and a $48,000 fine. Parvis was also handed 35 weeks of imprisonment and a $42,500 fine.
Haja has been sentenced to four months and two weeks of imprisonment, while Chew was sentenced for four months.
The Mini Environment Service was also fined $396,500, Labourtel got a fine of $120,000, while MES Logistics received a fine of $59,000.
The companies and the four individuals involved are also prohibited from employing migrant workers, according to MOM.
Labourtel's license to operate dormitories has also been revoked, MOM said, with the ministry coordinating a possible transition of the dormitories to new operations.
In Singapore, making false employment declarations could result to fines up to $20,000 and/or imprisonment of up to two years.
Making employees work excessive overtime is also punishable by law, with up to $10,000 fine and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months for repeat offenders.
"MOM will continue to take firm action against companies that contravene our laws," Quek said.