Skip to main content

18 Arrested for Suspected Illegal Labour Importation

On 14 September 2021, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) mounted a 12-hour long enforcement operation at 22 locations island-wide as part of an investigation involving a syndicate suspected of bringing foreigners into Singapore on work passes obtained through false declarations. A total of 18 persons were arrested. The investigation is ongoing. 

Modus Operandi

2 MOM began its investigations in July 2021 upon obtaining information of a foreigner’s attempts to acquire a work pass illegally. Through detailed analyses over a few months, MOM uncovered a potential syndicate suspected of setting up several shell companies to apply for work passes, even though they had no legitimate business operations.

3 Such syndicates typically recruit Singapore citizens and Singapore permanent residents to receive CPF contributions as “phantom local workers” in order to illegally inflate the companies’ quota to hire foreigners. Based on the inflated quota, the companies would apply for work passes for the foreigners through false declarations and collect kickbacks from them. These foreigners would then enter and remain in Singapore via these illegally obtained work passes. These practices undermine the integrity of our work pass framework. 


4 Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA), individuals convicted of obtaining work passes for a business that does not exist, is not in operation, or does not require the employment of foreigners may be liable to a fine not exceeding $6,000, imprisonment for up to two years, or both, per charge. If convicted for six or more charges, caning will also be imposed.

Employers who hire foreigners seeking illegal employment may be liable to a fine not exceeding $30,000, imprisonment for up to 12 months, or both, per charge. Upon conviction, they will be barred from employing foreigners.

6 Foreigners who undertake employment without a valid work pass may be liable to a fine not exceeding $20,000, imprisonment for up to two years, or both. Upon conviction, they will be permanently barred from working in Singapore.

7 Members of the public who are aware of suspicious employment activities such as companies employing foreigners without valid work passes, persons receiving CPF contributions from unknown companies, or know of persons or employers who contravene the EFMA should report the matter to MOM at 64385122 or All information will be kept strictly confidential.