Director of a shell company jailed seven months for illegal labour importation
- On 22 March 2018, 42-year-old Teo Hwee Lip (“Teo”), the Director of Triyon Corporation Pte Ltd, was sentenced in the State Courts to seven months’ imprisonment for fraudulently obtaining work passes for five foreign workers for a shell company. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has also permanently barred him from employing foreign workers.
- Teo was charged with a total of five counts under Section 22B(1) of the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (“EFMA”) for illegal importation of labour between December 2014 and January 2015. Two charges were proceeded against Teo, while three remaining charges were taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing.
Investigations revealed that Teo worked with another individual, Yan Ping (“Yan”), to obtain work passes for foreign workers with no intention to employing them. Teo agreed with Yan to register himself as the Director of Triyon Corporation Pte Ltd (“the company”), a shell company that did not carry out any business activity. He subsequently falsely declared to MOM that foreign workers would be employed by Triyon Corporation Pte Ltd as construction workers. Investigations against Yan is on-going.
- Teo was promised $300 for every successful work pass application made by the company. Based on the false information submitted between December 2014 and January 2015, Teo obtained work passes for five Chinese workers who were subsequently made to find their own employment.
In total, Teo received $1,500 for illegally importing foreign workers. The accused was also ordered to pay the illegal proceeds unlawfully gained by him.
Severe Penalties Imposed on Illegal Importation of Labour Offences
- Commenting on the case, Mr Kandhavel Periyasamy, Director of Employment Inspectorate at MOM’s Foreign Manpower Management Division, said, “Individuals must not be complicit or allow themselves to be used by others to bring in foreign workers illegally. It is a serious offence to set up shell companies and to profit from fraudulent work pass applications. If convicted, individuals can be fined, imprisoned and/or caned.”
In the last two years, a total of five persons have been convicted for illegal importation of labour. On 3 November 2017, 33-year-old Goh Eng Kiat was sentenced to five strokes of the cane, 45 months’ imprisonment and $75,000 fine for the proceeds of crimes, after being convicted of illegal labour importation. Most recently on 27 February 2018, 63-year-old Ng Soon Heng was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment for fraudulently obtaining work passes for foreign workers for companies that were not in operation.
Advisory from MOM
- Under the EFMA, those who illegally obtain work passes for foreign employees for a business that does not exist and fails to provide any work for the employees will be sentenced to imprisonment for six months or more, and face a fine of up to $6,000 for each offence. If convicted of six or more charges at the same trial, caning may also be imposed. MOM will ban the offender and company from employing new foreign workers and not grant any work pass renewals.
- Foreign workers who find themselves released without a job after obtaining a work pass should immediately report to MOM and seek help. MOM will investigate the case and provide the necessary assistance.
Members of the public who know of persons or businesses who contravene the EFMA should report the matter to MOM at 6438 5122 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. All information will be kept strictly confidential.