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MOM smashes syndicate involved in illegal importation of labour; 41 arrested

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The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Friday it has busted a syndicate suspected to be involved in bringing in foreign workers for illegal employment in Singapore.

THE Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Friday it has busted a syndicate suspected to be involved in bringing in foreign workers for illegal employment in Singapore.

A total of 41 people, including the alleged mastermind and members of the syndicate, were arrested in an island-wide operation that took place on July 1 and 2.

In a press release, MOM said the syndicate would set up shell companies to bring in the foreign workers, with huge profits garnered from collecting large kickbacks.

"As there is no actual employment, the upkeep and maintenance are left to these workers who have unwittingly become victims of the scam," MOM said. "In other instances, there are also workers who would willingly pay a large sum of money to be part of the scam in order to obtain a genuine work pass. In turn, they would seek illegal employment."

Kevin Teoh, divisional director of MOM's foreign manpower management division, said: "This operation to weed out syndicates involved in the illegal importation of labour is part of MOM's overall enforcement strategy. This is to ensure a level playing field in the employment landscape such that law abiding employers are not disadvantaged. We will continue to use the full force of the law to take perpetrators who deliberately circumvent our work pass framework to task."

Heading a syndicate that imports foreign workers for illegal employment could result in a fine of up to S$6,000 and/or imprisonment of six months to two years per worker. If convicted of at least six similar offences at the same trial, the offender is liable to caning. The runners who associated with the offence will face similar punishment.

Employers who hire foreign workers seeking illegal employment face a fine of between S$5,000 and S$30,000 or up to one year imprisonment or both.

Foreigners who work without valid work passes face a fine of up to S$20,000 or two years imprisonment or both. They may also be barred from working in Singapore.