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Director jailed 20 months and fined over $158,000 for illegal labour importation and kickback offences

  1. On 24 May 2018, a 43-year-old woman Poh Kwi Ko (“Poh”), the Director of Aik Heng Contracts and Services Pte Ltd, was sentenced in the State Courts to 20 months’ imprisonment and a total fine of $158,750 for illegal importation of labour and collecting kickbacks. The Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) has also permanently barred Poh from employing foreign workers.    
  2. Poh faced a total of 42 charges1 under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (“EFMA”) for abetting foreign workers to be illegally employed, illegal importation of labour and collection of kickbacks. She pleaded guilty on 26 April 2018 to 15 charges of illegal importation of labour and collecting kickbacks, with the remaining 27 charges taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing.

    About the Case
  3. Investigations revealed that Poh committed multiple EFMA offences between December 2014 to December 2016. The key offences include fraudulently obtaining work passes for 10 foreign workers, despite knowing that there was no work, and subsequently collecting kickbacks from eight of them as a condition to keep their work passes valid so that they could work illegally. In addition, Poh demanded and collected kickbacks from another 11 foreign workers.
  4. In total, Poh collected kickbacks amounting to almost $119,000. The Court has ordered Poh to pay the illegal proceeds unlawfully gained by her.

    Workers Should Report Kickbacks to MOM to Receive Help
  5. Commenting on the case, Mr Kandhavel Periyasamy, Director of Employment Inspectorate at MOM’s Foreign Manpower Management Division, said, “We will continue to take strong action and prosecute employers who bring in foreigners under the disguise of providing employment, and subsequently collecting kickbacks from them. Forcing workers to pay kickbacks as a condition for work is exploitative, and takes advantage of these workers’ desire to work in Singapore. Workers who are asked by their employers to pay kickbacks and/or to work illegally are strongly advised to approach MOM early, and we will provide the necessary assistance.”

    Advisory from MOM
  6. Foreign workers who are told by their employers to find work on their own or pressured into giving kickbacks can report to MOM at 6438 5122. They can also go to the Migrant Workers’ Centre at 579 Serangoon Road Singapore 218193 or contact them at 6536 2692.
  7. Members of the public who know of foreign workers in need of assistance, or have information of persons who contravene the EFMA, should report the matter to MOM at 6438 5122 or e-mail mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg. All information will be kept strictly confidential.

FOOTNOTE

  1. 10 charges on illegal importation of labour, 19 charges on receiving and demanding kickbacks, and 13 charges on abetting foreign workers to be self-employed foreigners without valid work passes.