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Five strokes of cane and 50 months' jail for shell company director for illegal labour importation

  1. On 3 November 2017, a 33-year-old Singaporean, Goh Eng Kiat (“Goh”), became the first person to be sentenced with caning for offences committed under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA).
  2. Goh, the Director of Jasper Contractors Pte. Ltd. was sentenced in the State Courts to 45 months’ imprisonment and five strokes of the cane for fraudulently obtaining work passes for 30 foreign workers for a company that did not require their employment. He was also ordered to pay a penalty of $75,000 for the proceeds of crime. As he was unable to pay the penalty, he will serve the in-default sentence of five months’ imprisonment. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has also permanently barred him from employing foreign workers.
  3. Goh was charged with a total of 117 counts under Section 22B(1) of the EFMA for illegal importation of labour between November 2013 and March 2014. A total of 30 charges were proceeded against Goh, while the remaining 87 charges were taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing. Another charge under the Bankruptcy Act was also proceeded against Goh.

Case Details

  1. Goh falsely declared to MOM that foreign workers would be employed by his company as construction workers, when he had no intention to do so. Based on the false information, Goh managed to fraudulently obtained work passes for 117 foreign workers between November 2013 and March 2014. The foreign workers were subsequently released to find their own employment. In total, he received $292,500 from the foreign workers, by far the largest amount received by an offender involving illegal importation of labour.

Need for a Strong Deterrence Signal

  1. Commenting on the case, Mr Kandhavel Periyasamy, Director of Employment Inspectorate at MOM’s Foreign Manpower Management Division, said, “This is the first illegal labour importation case that the court has imposed a caning sentence. We want to remind individuals that illegal labour importation is a serious offence, and we will take strong enforcement action against individuals who commit this offence.”
  2. In the last two years, a total of 13 persons have been convicted for the illegal importation of labour offence. Most recently on 5 September 2017, a 51-year old man S. Vijaya Raj was convicted after Court trial for all six charges of illegal labour importation, and he was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment.

Advisory from MOM

  1. Under the EFMA, it is an offence to obtain work passes for foreign employees for a business that does not exist and fails to provide any work for the employees. Offenders will be sentenced to imprisonment for six months or more, and face a fine of up to $6,000 for each offence. If convicted for six or more charges, caning will also be imposed. MOM may also ban the offender and company from employing new foreign workers and not grant any work pass renewals.
  2. Foreign workers who find themselves released without a job after obtaining a work pass should not work illegally by looking for employment on their own. They should immediately report the matter to MOM and come forward to seek help. MOM will investigate the case and provide the necessary assistance. If any worker is found to work illegally after being released, MOM will take enforcement actions against them and bar them from working in Singapore.
  3. Members of the public who know of persons or employers who contravene the EFMA should report the matter to MOM at 6438 5122 or e-mail All information will be kept strictly confidential.