MOM drops charges in false WICA claim case

by Miklos Bolza09 May 2016
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has withdrawn charges it previously made against a foreign worker, ending a two-year long work injury compensation case.
 
Safety supervisor, Shahidulla Md Anser Ali, was accused of lying about his workplace injuries and making a fraudulent claim under the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA). MOM withdrew these charges on Friday (6 May).
 
Shahidulla has been left unable to work in Singapore for two years while the case was pending.
 
He first went to MOM in 2014 to report being beaten up by his supervisor. He was later charged with one count of making a fraudulent WICA claim and two counts of lying to an investigating officer.
 
According to court documents, Shahidulla said he was physically assaulted by his supervisor on 1 March 2014 and injured his back as a result.
 
“The charges [against Shahidulla] were withdrawn as a new witness, who could not be located during investigations, has come forth to support [his] version of events,” a MOM spokesperson told The Straits Times.
 
The Ministry reiterated that its hard-line approach to fraudulent claims had not changed however.
 
“Making a fraudulent workplace injury compensation claim or providing false information is a serious act of deceit. MOM will not hesitate to take action against claimants who try to abuse the system.”
 
Those found guilty of making a false work injury compensation claim can be fined up to $15,000 and/or jailed for up to a year. The offence of lying to an investigating officer can come with a fine of up to $5,000 and/or a jail sentence of up to six months.
 
In February, a Bangladeshi marine worker was convicted for making a false claim that his little finger was severed while using a saw machine at work. He was jailed for eight weeks.
 
An additional two workers have already been convicted for similar offences this year. In 2015, the Ministry prosecuted and convicted a total of five workers while in 2014 it prosecuted four.
 
Debbie Fordyce, executive committee member from Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) told The Straits Times that she had dealt with around one hundred foreign worker injury cases a month. However, she had only seen six cases – including Shahidulla’s – in which the worker was prosecuted under WICA.
 
Of these six workers, Fordyce said she had only seen one other who had the charges withdrawn by MOM. This case occurred in 2013.
 
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