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Prison sentences of between four and 12 weeks have been handed down to 25 foreign workers in Singapore for forging academic certificates in order to obtain work passes for Singapore, reports channelnewsasia.com.
The 21 men and four women have all plead guilty to the charges. Most of the workers were from Myanmar (16), seven were from India, and two from the Philippines.
Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said the forged academic certificates were submitted to the Controller of Work Passes, which is an offence under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.
The Ministry also said this is the largest number of foreign employees prosecuted for the offence this year. It added that the penalties are the most severe the court has meted out so far for the offence.
The accused persons obtained forged academic certificates in their home countries. They used the certificates to apply for work passes between 2 November 2012 and 7 June 2013.
MOM said based on the false information submitted, the accused persons were issued 20 S Passes, for semi-skilled workers, and five Employment Passes, for professionals.
They did not possess the requisite university degree qualifications, and had knowingly used the forged academic certificates to mislead MOM to believe that they met the required educational criteria to obtain work passes.
MOM discovered that the certificates were forged following checks with the relevant certificate issuing institutions and respective foreign government departments.
The employers were also unaware that the foreign employees had submitted forged academic certificates for their work pass applications. MOM said as there was no complicity on the part of the employers, no further action was taken against them.
This is the second announcement this week from MOM regarding recruitment fraud relating to foreign nationals. On Tuesday, 22 foreign nationals were arrested for providing false information relating to their earnings to MOM.
Last year, MOM announced new measures to reduce the number of foreign workers in Singapore and encourage businesses to recruit locally instead of overseas. There has been no comment from MOM advising that the spate of arrests is linked with the enforcement of the new measures.