In the State Courts yesterday, the Managing Director of Lian Lee Wooden Case Maker Co Pte Ltd, Ng Boon Cheng (Ng), pleaded guilty to charges1 of collecting kickbacks from his foreign workers, as a condition for their continued employment with the company.

The 55-year-old Singaporean man was convicted in Court on 22 November 2016, and sentenced to a fine of $60,000 in default 18 weeks' imprisonment. In addition, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has banned Ng from employing foreign workers.

About the Case

Investigations revealed that between January 2011 and October 2015, Ng consented for the company to deduct various amounts from the salaries payable to 20 foreign workers for their continued employment with the company.

Before the renewals of the foreign workers' work permits, Ng conducted interviews to decide whether to renew their work permits. The foreign workers were informed that they had to pay renewal fees in order to continue their employment with the company, and the fees would be deducted from their monthly salaries. The foreign workers were also informed that if they did not agree to the deduction of their renewal fees from their monthly salary, their work permits would not be renewed. As such, the foreign workers agreed to the above arrangement.

Between 9 November 2012 and October 2015, sums ranging from $575 to $9,000 were deducted from salaries of the foreign workers. The sum of kickbacks collected by Ng amounted to over $93,000. The collection of kickbacks or other benefits, as a condition or financial guarantee for employment, is prohibited under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA). Ng was therefore arrested and charged in Court on 11 October 2016.

The monies collected as kickbacks have been returned to the workers.

MOM Takes a Serious View of Kickbacks Offence

Commenting on the case, Mr Kevin Teoh, Divisional Director at MOM's Foreign Manpower Management Division said, "The collection of kickbacks is a criminal activity and strong enforcement action will be taken. Such illegal practices must be stopped as they undermine the financial well-being of the foreign workers who have no choice but to agree to such arrangements. Errant employers will be barred from employing foreign workers."

A total of 38 individuals have been convicted for collection of kickbacks in the last two years.

Advisory to Workers

Foreign workers who are pressured to pay money to their employers in order to continue their employment in Singapore should seek help from MOM immediately.

Members of the public who know of persons or employers who contravene the EFMA should report the matter to MOM at Tel: (65) 6438 5122 or email mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg. All information will be kept strictly confidential.

Source: MINISTRY OF MANPOWER (MOM)