2 charged for biggest case of hiring phantom workers
SINGAPORE: In the biggest case to date, two men have been charged with 101 counts each, for allegedly falsely declaring the number of local workers employed so as to be able to hire more foreign workers.
The duo are 52-year-old Lim Chye Cheng, and 59-year-old Steven Lee Kong. They are both from the SME group of companies comprising 14 firms that provide cleaning services.
Steven Lee is the director of the SME group and Lim is believed to be the key player in the scam.
The Manpower Ministry said it has been monitoring the SME group since late last year.
Amid ongoing investigations, a group of foreign workers working for some of the companies under the group lodged complaints regarding salary arrears.
Lee and Lim are only two out of 10 people to be charged in the Subordinate Courts on Friday.
The other eight are from companies spanning fields like marine, construction, F&B and manufacturing.
These include Toh Eng Hock Construction, TNS Logistics, and Restu Muslim Seafood Restaurant.
Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, falsely declaring the number of local workers hired is punishable with a fine of up to S$15,000, or twelve months' jail, or both.
The local phantom worker also faces prosecution for abetting the offence.
The 10 cases are due to be heard again in another three to four weeks' time.
Last November, the Manpower Ministry also prosecuted the owner of Spize the Makanplace for making false declarations in 15 workpass applications.
It is always an ingenious idea to hire more foreign workers. First off, they are cheaper than local workers. Secondly, you can make them work longer hours. And most importantly, you can delay paying them salaries!
That's right! They have nobody to turn to, and nowhere to run to, so you could delay their pay as long as half a year! Or better still, save on their lodging by making 600 of them packed in a little dorm!
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