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Businessman Jailed For Hiring Foreigners Without Valid Work Passes

Mandatory jail term and higher fines for the repeat offender

  1. Neo Wee Seng (梁伟胜), a 39-year-old Singaporean businessman, was convicted today in the Subordinate Courts of hiring foreign employees without valid work passes. Neo was previously convicted of five counts of illegal employment on 12 October 20101. As a repeat offender, Neo faces stricter penalties2 under the revised Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA) which came into effect on 9 November 2012.
  2. Neo pleaded guilty to four charges of employing four foreigners without valid work passes as food packers in his capacity as the director of Rajdhani Restaurant & Catering Pte Ltd, and two charges of illegally employing two foreigners as stall assistants at his firm, Shamima Enterprise. Neo also illegally employed 10 other foreigners for jobs such as a barber and shop assistant. The charges for the illegal employment of these remaining 10 foreigners were taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing. In total, the Court has sentenced Neo to three months’ imprisonment and $90,000 fine or in default six months’ imprisonment for the six proceeded charges.

    Facts of the Case
  3. Investigations revealed that Neo had employed four Bangladeshi nationals between 28 December 2012 and 4 January 2013 to work at his restaurant – Rajdhani Restaurant & Catering Pte Ltd – as food packers. Despite being aware that the foreigners did not possess valid work passes, and were thus not permitted to work for the restaurant, Neo made the decision as the restaurant’s director to hire these foreigners.
  4. Neo also ran another firm called Shamima Enterprise. He employed two Bangladeshi nationals without valid work passes from mid-January 2013 to 27 March 2013 to work as assistants at his firm. Neo further hired another 10 foreigners in other jobs.
  5. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) issued a stern warning to the 16 foreigners who were illegally employed. They will be sent home and banned from returning to Singapore to work.

    Advisory from MOM
  6. Under the EFMA, employers are not allowed to hire any foreigner without first obtaining a valid work pass from MOM. Employers who break the law can be prosecuted, and will be subjected upon conviction to a fine of between $5,000 and $30,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months for first-time offenders. They may also be barred from employing foreigners in future. In 2012, 74 errant employers were convicted of illegal employment, while 98 employers were convicted last year.
  7. Members of the public with information about employment-related offences can call the MOM hotline at (65) 6438 5122 or e-mail All information will be kept strictly confidential.

1 At his first conviction under Section 5(1) of the EFMA on 12 October 2010, Neo was convicted for five counts of illegally employing foreigners without valid work passes to work as cooks and restaurant assistants. He was sentenced to a fine of $15,000.
2 The enhanced penalties for a repeat offender committing illegal employment under Section 5(1) of the revised EFMA is a minimum fine of not less than $10,000 and not more than $30,000, and minimum imprisonment of one month and not more than 12 months per charge.