The warning comes after a syndicate involved with the importing of illegal workers was smashed during an island-wide enforcement operation on July 1 and 2 by MOM – which led to a whopping 41 arrests.
According to a press release issued by MOM on Friday, the syndicate would set up shell companies and register the foreigners under these firms, with enormous profits derived from collecting large amounts of 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.
There were also workers who would willingly pay significant amounts to be part of the scam to obtain a genuine work pass, and then from there seek illegal employment.
MOM’s foreign manpower management division director Kevin Teoh said the operation was 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.
“Even as we continue to step up our enforcement efforts, we urge employers to partner us in our efforts to clamp down on illegal employment by reporting such activity to MOM and/or by employing workers through the proper means.”
The Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA) was amended in November 2012 to give MOM greater enforcement powers to deal and heavily penalise offenders involved in illegal labour importation.
Penalties for employers who hire foreign workers seeking illegal employment include a fine of between $5,000 and $30,000 or up to 12 months’ imprisonment, or both. They may also be barred from employing foreign workers.
The message from the Ministry of Manpower is clear: employers who utilise illegal foreign labour, and the syndicates who facilitate their arrival, will be punished using the “full force of the law”.