Photo of Ng Boon Cheng from Straits Times Wong Kwai Chow

An owner of a wooden case manufacturer was fined S$60,000 today (Nov 23) by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for collecting more than S$93,000 in salary kickbacks from his 20 foreign workers.

Managing director of Lian Lee Wooden Case Maker Co, Ng Boon Cheng, 55, avoided a 18 weeks’ jail sentence by paying the fine, and his company will also be banned from hiring foreign workers in the future.

Committed between Nov 2012 and Oct 2015, the errant employer had his way for 3 years because the MOM did not do its due dilligence to check on Singapore employers collecting salaries kickbacks.

Prior to visa renewal, the Singaporean boss would conduct an “interview” with the foreign worker and pressured the victim to pay for “renewal fees” in order to continue their employer-sponsored visa permit with the company.

20 foreign workers, with each seeing salaries reductions made between S$575 to S$9,000 over the 3-year-period, paid a total of more than S$93,000 to the boss.

The S$60,000 sentencing however doesn’t commensurate with the bribes received, and will unlikely prove as a deterrent to the rampant malpractice. It is unknown if the foreign workers who agreed to paying salaries kickbacks were punished.

Making a statement on the case, the divisional director of MOM’s foreign manpower management was tight-lipped about revealing more details or statistics:

“Such illegal practices must be stopped as they undermine the financial well-being of the foreign workers who have no choice but to agree to such arrangements. Errant employers will be barred from employing foreign workers.”