Forty-one people have been arrested after the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) mounted an islandwide enforcement operation against a syndicate suspected to be involved in the illegal importation of labour, the ministry said on Friday (Jul 3).
The suspects, including the alleged mastermind and members of the syndicate, were apprehended on Wednesday and Thursday.
Investigations revealed that the syndicate would set up shell companies to bring in the foreign workers, MOM said, adding that the syndicate would collect large amounts of kickbacks from the workers.
Some of the workers paid large sums of money to be part of the scam in order to obtain a genuine work pass, it said. In turn, these workers would seek illegal employment.
Members of the syndicate face up to between six months and two years of jail, and/or a fine of up to S$6,000, for each illegal worker, the ministry said. If convicted of at least six similar offences, they also face caning.
Employers who hire illegal foreign workers face a fine of between S$5,000 and S$30,000, and/or up to 12 months’ jail, and may also be barred from employing foreign workers. Foreigners who work without valid work passes face a fine of up to S$20,000, and/or 24 months’ jail, and may also be barred from working in Singapore.
In the past year, MOM said it has dismantled three syndicates involved in setting up seven companies which had brought in about 500 workers illegally. A total of 19 syndicate members have been apprehended. Investigations are ongoing.