Ong Dai Lin

FROM serving coffee, they now face the prospect of serving jail time for employing “phantom” workers.

Three coffeeshop operators were charged yesterday with falsely declaring the number of local workers on their payrolls so as to inflate their foreign worker entitlement.

Soh Seng Thiam, manager of Jurong Café, which operates two coffeeshops at Jurong East Street and Tampines, has been slapped with 14 charges, while Pam Yoon Chung and Ho Chin Lai, directors of two different food courts in Bukit Batok, face 15 and 26 charges respectively.

The trio are the latest to be hauled to court as the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) continues to tighten the screw on errant employers. Three have already been convicted since March 27, with each receiving a custodial sentence ranging from six to 16 months.

Yesterday, another was handed a 12-month jail term by a district court. Soo Eng Yong, the sole proprietor of Superb Plastics Manufacturing, had made false statements to the Controller of Work Passes in the work permit application forms of seven foreign employees last year.

Investigations revealed that Superb Plastics did not have any business operations and the factories it listed were empty. Soo also never had any jobs for these foreign workers and they were left to fend for themselves.

Said Mr Aw Kum Cheong, divisional director of the Foreign Manpower Management Division: “MOM will continue to pursue such cases aggressively to stamp out the practice. Employers should note the severe penalties handed down by the courts, and recognise that it is not worth the risk of getting involved in such scams.”

From TODAY, News – Friday, 17-April-2009


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