Unlicensed Employment Agent Convicted, Fined $40,000
First person to be convicted after a Court trial for conducting employment agency activities without a licence
- A 28-year-old construction worker from the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Ahmead Rubel (“Rubel”), was convicted in the State Courts on 30 April 2015 of one count of conducting employment agency activities without a valid employment agency (EA) licence issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) between November and December 2013.
- The District Judge Michelle Yap sentenced Rubel to a total fine of $40,000 in default four months’ imprisonment. Two other similar charges were taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing. This is the first case of an accused being convicted after a Court trial for conducting EA activities without a valid licence.
- In early November 2013, Rubel became acquainted with one Lu Zhibo (“Lu”) who was the senior site manager of a construction firm Nanjing Minglu Construction Engineering Co. Ltd (Singapore) (the “Company”). Lu was looking for construction workers for the Company.
- About the same period, Rubel met up with a Bangladeshi worker Mosharaf near Mustafa Shopping Centre, and asked if Mosharaf knew of any Bangladeshi who wanted to work in Singapore. Mosharaf said he knew a Bangladeshi national, Jabed, who wanted to find employment here. Rubel then told Mosharaf about the job vacancy at the Company, the salary and job description, and that he would charge $3,000 as agency fees.
- Mosharaf then conveyed the information to Jabed through the latter’s cousin and Jabed agreed to take up the job offer. Rubel requested for a copy of Jabed’s passport and other supporting documents to be sent to him via email, which Rubel then forwarded to Lu via “Whatsapp”. Lu found Jabed suitable for the job. Consequently, on 21 November 2013, the Company made an online Work Permit application for Jabed, which was approved subsequently.
- On 8 December 2013, Jabed’s cousin handed $3,000 to Mosharaf and Mosharaf then handed the money to Rubel. Jabed arrived in Singapore four days later, and worked as a construction worker at the Company from 26 December 2013 to 9 June 2014.
The Trial in Court
- During the two-day trial from 29 to 30 April 2014, Rubel denied knowing Jabed, Mosharaf or sending any details to Lu. He also denied receiving any money from Mosharaf.
- However, the Prosecution succeeded in proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt that Rubel was performing activities in relation to the placement of Jabed, when he did not have a valid EA licence and had contravened the Employment Agencies Act (EAA).
MOM Takes Tough Stand against Unlicensed EA Activities
- Commenting on the trial, Mr Kevin Teoh (张庆兴), Divisional Director of MOM’s Foreign Manpower Management Division (人力部外来人力管理署署长) said, “Foreigners holding valid work passes should not try to earn quick money by performing unlicensed EA activities. Foreigners who want to seek employment in Singapore, and companies which seek workers should approach licensed employment agencies for their employment and recruitment needs. The Ministry will clamp down on unlicensed EAs as they undermine the credibility of the industry. Those who break the law will be severely dealt with.”
- MOM has also taken separate action against the company in view of its role in the commission of the offence. On 10 July 2014, the company pleaded guilty to one charge under Section 22(A)(1) of the EAA for using the services of Rubel and was fined $4,0001. Two other charges under the same section were taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing.
Advisory from MOM
- Under the EAA, any person who operates or abets an unlicensed employment agency is punishable with a fine of up to $80,000 or up to 24 months’ jail, or both. For subsequent convictions, a fine of up to $160,000 or up to 48 months’ jail, or both, will be imposed.
- The public are advised to use only MOM-licensed employment agents for their employment needs. To protect their interests, they are encouraged to verify the legitimacy of the EA through the EA Directory on the MOM website. Members of the public who are aware of any individuals or EAs that are operating without a licence should contact MOM at (65) 6438 5122 or email email@example.com. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
1 Under the EAA, any person or company who uses the services of an unlicensed EA has committed an offence, and is punishable with a fine of up to $5,000 per charge.