Singapore

Labour scam mastermind gets 5 years’ jail and $144,000 fine


He was the mastermind of a labour scam, which deceived 46 Chinese nationals into coming to Singapore for legitimate work that never materialised or even existed in the first place.

When they arrived in Singapore, they were told to look for their own employment to sustain themselves.

After a 14-day trial, Uber driver Chew Sin Jit, now 51, was convicted of 46 counts of being part of a conspiracy to illegally obtain work passes for foreign workers by using shell companies that were not in operation.

Describing Chew's actions as "reprehensible", District Judge Crystal Ong sentenced him to five years' jail and a fine of $144,000 yesterday.

He committed the offences between May 2013 and August 2013 by making use of two shell companies known as NCK Construction and All Rounder Builders (ARB).

According to court documents, he worked with Toh Gim Por, 44, and Mr Sim Oon Peng, 38, to obtain work passes for 26 of the men.

The documents also stated that Chew and Mr Poh Ah Ho, 29, obtained the passes for the remaining 20.

In her submissions, Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Prosecutor Joanne Wee said: "As their official employers, both NCK and ARB were businesses that were not in operation, none of the foreign employees were given any basic upkeep, such as accommodation, nor were they entitled to workmen compensation should any workplace injuries occur."

Ms Wee said Toh had testified in court that the purpose of the two firms was to "make money".

During the trial, Toh testified that Chew hatched the plot in May 2013.

Toh then roped in Mr Sim to be the director of NCK Construction and Mr Poh as the director of ARB. These directors were promised up to $25,000 each.

Ms Wee said they would also be given about $1,000 monthly and between $500 and $1,000 for every work pass application received.

She said: "(Their role) was to sign on applications for work passes in their capacity as directors of the companies before the applications were submitted to the MOM."

Toh told the court that he received between $4,000 and $6,000 for contributing to the scheme.

Pleading for a lighter sentence, Chew, who was unrepresented, told the court yesterday that he wished to appeal.

Toh, who pleaded guilty on July 21 last year to five of 46 charges, was jailed for three years and four months, and fined $15,000.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, MOM said Mr Sim and Mr Poh have not been charged in court.

MINISTRY OF MANPOWER (MOM)constructionWORKERS