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MOM Arrests 27 Individuals for Employment-Related Offences in Island-Wide Enforcement Operation

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) conducted a two-day island-wide enforcement operation from 16 to 17 May 2023, and arrested 27 persons for suspected involvement in illegal employment, making false declaration in work pass applications and inflation of a firm’s migrant worker quota by making CPF contributions to Singaporeans not working for the company.

2 MOM officers raided 19 locations, including food stalls, residences and an office belonging to the accused persons who had allegedly brought in 290 migrant workers through fraudulent means. 80 digital devices such as laptops, mobile phones and storage devices, as well as payment records, were seized during the enforcement operation. Investigations against the arrested persons are ongoing.


Modus Operandi of the Syndicate


3 The syndicate makes CPF contributions to Singaporeans to fraudulently inflate the shell companies’ quota to hire foreigners. These Singaporeans, or “phantom workers”, are not employed by these companies. Based on the inflated quota, the companies would apply for work passes for the foreigners through false declarations. These foreigners would then enter and remain in Singapore via these illegally obtained work passes.


4 Commenting on the operations, Ms Jeanette Har, Director of Investigation at MOM’s Foreign Manpower Management Division, said: “MOM takes a serious view of attempts to evade work pass controls set up to manage the number and criteria of foreigners permitted to work in Singapore and complement the local workforce, and will apprehend and prosecute such offenders.”


Penalties for Illegal Employment and False Declaration


5 All employers and work pass applicants must make accurate, complete and truthful declarations to the Controller of Work Passes in work pass applications under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (“EFMA”). Making false declarations in relation to applications for work passes is a serious offence. If convicted, an offender can be fined up to $20,000, or jailed for up to 2 years, or both. Errant employers will also have their work pass privileges suspended, and the work pass applicant may also be prosecuted and be permanently barred from working in Singapore.


6 Employers who hire foreign employees without valid work passes may be liable to a fine of at least $5,000 and not exceeding $30,000, imprisonment for up to 12 months, or both, per charge. They will also be barred from employing foreigners.


 7 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.


8 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 that is shared will be kept strictly confidential.