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Singapore – Unlicensed employment agency operator convicted

28 November 2012

A 45-year-old man from Singapore, Samuel Tang Yong Meng, was fined SGD60,000 (approximately €38,000) by a district court on Monday for running an unlicensed employment agency, the ministry of manpower reports this week.

The man was convicted for operating an unlicensed employment agency under the revised Employment Agencies Act (EEA) which came into effect in April 2011 and introduced harsher penalties. He is a repeat offender who was already fined five years ago for a similar offense.

The man had placed Chinese workers into jobs in Singapore, hiring an “unknown” employment agent in China to source workers between April and May 2011. He received biodata and helped workers with their applications to receive work passes, also arranging medical examinations of the Chinese nationals.

However, Mr Tang lacked a licence from the Commissioner of Employment Agencies which authorises such business. The court heard that he approached “food stalls” and offered them foreign workers.  He received between SGD$800 and SGD$1,200 in service fees for placing one worker and, after purchasing their medical insurance, kept the balance.   

Under the revised EAA any person operating an unlicensed employment agency could be fined up to SGD80,000 and/or be sentenced to 24 months in prison. For subsequent convictions, fines can rise to SGD160,000 and can include a 48 months’ jail sentence.  

Mr Aw Kum Cheong, Commissioner for Employment Agencies at the ministry of manpower (MOM), said: “Unlicensed employment agencies are illegal and they are not bound by rules which protect the interests of employers and workers. Employers must also ensure they use only MOM-licensed employment agencies – otherwise they are also in breach of the EAA and enforcement action will be taken against them.

“As the lead agency to uphold the credibility and professional standards of the employment agency industry, MOM will proactively step up enforcement and take strong punitive actions against those who act against the law, especially repeat offenders.”


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