First such custodial sentence since Employment Agencies Act amended in 2011
In a landmark case of an unlicensed employment agent, 39-year-old Chua Mei Chern (“Chua”) was sentenced to 10 weeks’ jail under the revised Employment Agencies Act for operating an unlicensed employment agency (EA).
On 4 May 2012, Chua pleaded guilty to four charges: including one count for operating an unlicensed employment agency (EA), one count for declaring false information in a work permit application, one count for illegal employment and one count for abetting in a conspiracy to make a false statement. One other charge was taken into consideration. For the MOM-related charges, Chua was sentenced to a total of 25 weeks imprisonment.
In passing judgement, District Judge Liew Thiam Leng considered the prosecution’s submissions that she was the mastermind of an illegal operation, had caused harm to five workers and also had related illegal employment and false declaration of employer charges. On top of these, she faced 17 other cheating charges under the Penal Code. Chua was sentenced to a total of seven years imprisonment for the cheating charges, with the sentence for the MOM-related charges running concurrently1.
Facts of the case
Between April to November 2011, Chua had operated an unlicensed employment agency called “SSS Employment Services”. To run her business, she employed a Filipino assistant, Jeraldine Pagulayan Tuliao. Chua made a false declaration in Jeraldine’s work permit application, stating that she was to be a foreign domestic worker (FDW) under another employer.
Jeraldine was asked by Chua to assist with sourcing for Filipino workers, arranging interviews for the workers and applying jobs for the workers. She also collected agency fees ranging from $2,800 to $4,000 on behalf of Chua, who promised her a commission ranging from $300 to $500 for each successful placement of the workers.
Later, in October 2011, three Filipino FDWs filed a police report against “SSS Employment Services” and Jeraldine for acting as an unlicensed employment agent. MOM officers successfully lured Jeraldine out and arrested her. Jeraldine then provided leads which eventually led to the arrest of Chua on 4 November 2011.
On 10 November 2011, 39-year old Jeraldine Pagulayan Tuliao, was fined $20,000 for abetting Chua. She was also fined $5,000 for making a false declaration in her own work permit application to be a FDW. Jeraldine was the first person to be convicted under the revised Employment Agencies Act for abetting unlicensed EA activities. For Chua, her run from the law finally come to an end with her conviction today. She is the second principal offender to be convicted under the revised Employment Agencies Act2.
Keep SingPass Confidential
Mr Aw Kum Cheong, Divisional Director, Foreign Manpower Management Division, MOM, said, "The case of Chua Mei Chern shows that no matter how hard offenders try to cover their tracks, with persistent and determined investigators, some luck and the help of the public, the law will eventually catch up with them. With harsher penalties in place under the revised Employment Agencies Act, coupled with MOM’s robust intelligence and enforcement, we will continue to weed out such unlicensed EAs.”
MOM would like to take this opportunity to remind the public that their SingPass should be kept confidential, as they may be subject to abuse by third parties. Those who deliberately allow their particulars to be used to make false work pass declarations are guilty of an offence under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA), and liable to be punished with a fine not exceeding $15,000 and/or up to 12 months’ jail, or both.
Under the revised Employment Agencies Act (EAA), which took effect on 1 April 2011, any person who operates or abets an unlicensed employment agency is punishable with a fine of up to $80,000 and up to 24 months’ jail, or both. For subsequent convictions, a fine of up to $160,000 and up to 48 months’ jail, or both, will be imposed.
The public are advised to use only MOM-licensed employment agents for their employment needs. To protect their interests, they are encouraged to verify the legitimacy of the EA through the EA Directory on the MOM website at www.mom.gov.sg/eadirectory.
Members of the public who are aware of any individuals or EAs that are operating without a licence should contact MOM at (65) 6438 5122 or e-mail email@example.com. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
1. This means that she will serve a total of 7 years including the 25-week sentence for the MOM-related charges.
2. The first principal offender was one De Luna Noriza Dancel, who was fined $50,000 for the same offence.
Source information taken from https://www.mom.gov.sg/newsroom/press-releases/2012/unlicensed-employment-agent-jailed-25-weeks