Singaporean Sheng Jianzhong, MD of Sheng Yu Construction Builders Pte Ltd, was sentenced to three weeks’ imprisonment and fined $169,000 in the State Courts on Monday, after he was charged with 38 charges of receiving kickbacks.
The case has prompted the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to warn other businesses that it takes a serious view of the illegal practice and will be clamping down on it following a spate of incidents.
Forty-year-old Sheng was also charged with one charge of obstruction of justice under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act and another for use of criminal force to a civil servant under the Penal Code.
Prosecution proceeded with 13 charges of receiving kickbacks and one charge for use of criminal force to a civil servant. The remaining charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
Sheng had required 24 foreign workers hired by him pay $7,200 as a condition of employment from September 2012 to January 2013.
One of the workers complained, and in February 2013, MOM raided the construction site off Jalan Legundi (Sembawang Road).
Sheng intervened in the raid, grabbing one of the MOM officer’s arms.
The case prompted MOM’s Foreign Manpower Management Division director Kevin Teoh to warn employers: “We take a serious view of employers who collect kickbacks as it further increases the debt burden of foreign workers, and is detrimental to their well-being.
“We will continue to clamp down on such practices as in the case of Sheng Jianzhong. With respect to using criminal force on a civil servant, perpetrators can expect the force of the law to be applied.”
The case is one of a spate of incidents involving illegal kickbacks.
Last month, 45-year-old Singaporean Geng Shuzhen was convicted of three charges of receiving kickbacks, with 18 other charges taken into consideration during sentencing. She was fined a total of $15,000, in default of six weeks’ imprisonment. Last year, 15 employers were convicted of receiving kickbacks.
Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, most monies collected from foreign workers will be deemed as employment kickbacks, unless the purposes for which they are collected can be properly accounted for. Offenders found guilty of the offence can be imprisoned for up to two years, or fined a maximum of $30,000, or both.
The managing director of a construction firm has been jailed after a MOM raid revealed he collected $85,380 in illegal kickbacks from foreign workers.