SINGAPORE: Forty-four persons were arrested here for bringing in foreign workers for illegal employment in Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) said in a statement on Tuesday.
Six of those arrested were allegedly members of illegal employment syndicates while 38 were foreign workers picked up during an island-wide enforcement operation from July 26 to 27.
Items such as work permit cards, name lists of workers and Singpass tokens were seized. Further investigations were going on, Xinhua news agency reported.
According to the ministry, syndicates that illegally bring in foreign labour would typically set up shell companies, hire fall guys as directors and misuse their Singpass accounts to make fraudulent work pass applications.
"MOM takes a serious view of bringing in foreign workers without a job and allowing these foreign workers to find their own employment. We will take offenders to task, and will continue our efforts to detect and take down syndicates that perpetuate such offences," Kevin Teoh, Divisional Director of MOM's Foreign Manpower Management Division, said while commenting on the operations.
He added that, if convicted, employers can be imprisoned up to two years and fined 6,000 Singapore dollars ($4,470).
"Employers and main contractors must do their due diligence to ensure that all foreign workers at their work sites have valid work passes. It is illegal to hire foreign workers who are released by their official employers to find their own work," Teoh said.
In 2015, MOM conducted four major operations against syndicates involved in the illegal importation of labour. These syndicates had set up four companies and had brought in approximately 300 workers. A total of 12 syndicate members were arrested.