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Foreigner fined and jailed for converting residential property into dormitory accommodation, being a self-employed foreigner without a valid work pass to sublet, and attempt to bribe enforcement officer

  1. A 28-year-old foreigner, Li Ying, was sentenced to a fine of $50,620 for converting a private residential property into dormitory accommodation without planning permission, $6,000 for being a self-employed foreigner without a valid work pass to engage in subletting activities, and four weeks in jail for attempting to bribe an enforcement officer. The Court convicted Li for offences under the Planning Act, Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA), and Prevention of Corruption Act. 

    About the case
  2. On 24 February 2018, acting on information received, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) engaged auxiliary police officers to carry out an inspection at a two-storey terrace house located along Jalan Kemajuan. The officers found 15 foreign workers living in the house, which exceeded the occupancy cap of six unrelated persons for private residential properties (see Annex for photos). 
  3. Investigations revealed that Li had rented the property in April 2017 on a two-year tenancy agreement. He partitioned the premises to create more bed spaces, with the intention of subletting them to foreign workers. Investigations indicated that sometime in November 2017 to 24 February 2018, Li had sublet bed spaces to up to 21 foreign workers, and collected a total rental revenue of $15,620. Converting a property meant only for residential use into dormitory accommodation constituted a material change in use of the property without planning permission, which is an offence under the Planning Act.  
  4. Li was employed to work for Intertek Testing Services (Singapore) Pte Ltd as a clerk at the time and did not hold a valid work pass, neither was he working under a contract of service, to engage in subletting activities. His illegal subletting activities with collection of rental proceeds thus constituted an offence under the EFMA for being a self-employed foreigner without a valid work pass. 
  5. During the inspection, Li also attempted to offer $100 to Wee Peng Soon, a Senior Enforcement Supervisor with Certis Cisco Security Pte Ltd, as an inducement for Wee not to report the number of occupants to URA. This is an offence punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Wee rejected the bribe and the case was referred to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).
  6. Li was charged in Court for the offences in July 2018.
  7. Property owners and tenants reminded to adhere to regulations and exercise due diligence 
  8. URA reminds property owners and tenants to adhere to prevailing regulations for private residential properties, such as the occupancy cap of six unrelated persons, and minimum stay duration of three consecutive months . Property owners should exercise due diligence to check that their property is not put to unauthorised uses, such as dormitory accommodation. Under the Planning Act, offenders who use their premises or permits their premises to be used to provide unauthorised dormitory accommodation can be fined up to $200,000, or jailed up to one year, or both.
  9. Under the EFMA, only foreigners with valid work passes are allowed to work in Singapore. They are only allowed to work in the occupation, and for the employer, as stated in their work passes. Offenders found without a valid work pass can be fined up to $20,000, or jailed up to two years, or both. Offenders will also be barred from working in Singapore.
  10. URA and MOM will continue to work closely together to conduct joint inspections on private residences housing foreign workers. The agencies will not hesitate to take action against anyone who blatantly disregard regulations.
  11. Singapore adopts a zero tolerance approach towards corruption. The authorities take a serious view of any corrupt practices, and will take action against any party involved in such acts.