Two work pass holders jailed for submitting false qualifications in work pass applications
Two Indian nationals, Bailwal Sunil Dutt and Sutradhar Bijoy, have been convicted and sentenced to one week and four weeks imprisonment respectively for submitting false qualifications to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in their work pass applications. Their work passes have been revoked and they have also been permanently barred from working in Singapore.
2 In addition, MOM has charged one other work pass holder, Bhandare Raghavendra, an Indian National, for the same offence. He is scheduled to appear in court on 5 August 2021.
3 MOM commenced investigations into 23 foreigners who had declared qualifications from Manav Bharti University (MBU) in their work pass applications in February 2021, after it was alerted that the Indian Government was investigating MBU for selling fake degrees. Set up in 2009 in Himachal Pradesh, MBU is a private institution that is accredited by the Indian Government and had issued genuine degrees.
4 Based on the findings from MOM’s investigations, the public prosecutor directed that MOM prosecute three individuals (Bailwal Sunil Dutt, Sutradhar Bijoy and Bhandare Raghavendra,) for offences under section. 22(3) Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA). As for the remaining individuals, 19 will be permanently barred from future employment in Singapore while further investigation is on-going for one individual.
SAFEGUARDING AND STRENGTHENING THE INTEGRITY OF OUR WORK PASS FRAMEWORK
5 MOM will continue to take firm measures to safeguard the integrity of the work pass framework. False declarations of any sort is an offence under the EFMA which carries a fine of up to $20,000, up to two years’ imprisonment, or both. Offenders will also have their work passes revoked and permanently barred from employment in Singapore. In the last five years, MOM detected and permanently barred an average of 660 foreigners per year from employment in Singapore for submitting fake education qualifications in their work pass applications. Over the same period, an average of eight foreigners per year were prosecuted for such offences.
6 Employers have the primary responsibility to ensure the authenticity and quality of the academic qualifications of the candidates they wish to hire. Before hiring, the employer should have already evaluated the candidates, including the authenticity and quality of their qualifications, to ensure that they have the right skills and qualification for the position they applied for. Most employers take this role seriously as it is in their interest to recruit qualified candidates.
7 As an additional safeguard, MOM also screens qualifications submitted in support of work pass applications through our database of institutions. This database is regularly updated through our scan of open source reports and research from third-party screening organisations. Work pass applications which are of a higher-risk i.e. those supported by qualifications from institutions not found in our database or are picked up by data analytics, are required to submit verification proof from a third-party screening organisation. When we detect a false qualification, we will reject the application and permanently bar the foreigner from employment in Singapore.
8 MOM regularly reviews and strengthens existing measures to verify education qualifications of work pass applicants. For instance, we are reviewing our list of approved verification service providers and the need for more employers to submit verification proof of qualifications in support of work pass applications.