Yesterday (4 Nov), NCMP Gerald Giam from WP posed a question in Parliament about Govt’s plan to check on the credentials of foreigners coming to work in Singapore, in light of recent cases of FTs using fake degrees to obtain Employment Pass (EP) to work in Singapore.
Specifically, Mr Giam asked:
To ask the Minister for Manpower what are the Government’s plans to facilitate credential checks on foreigners coming to work in Singapore in light of cases of foreigners on employment passes who are revealed to have used false credentials.
Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin replied that the EP eligibility framework is based on a range of factors, such as the applicant’s:
- salary level
This is to help identify individuals that are likely to possess expertise and capabilities to contribute to the Singapore economy, Mr Tan said.
“Hence, possessing acceptable qualifications alone does not guarantee that the EP application will be approved. Conversely, not possessing acceptable qualifications does not automatically rule one out of being eligible for an EP,” he added.
Mr Tan said that in 2012, MOM tightened the legislation and increased penalties for making false statements or submitting false documents in support of work pass application, including those relating to academic qualifications. Offenders may be fined up to $20,000 and/or imprisoned up to two years.
“Since 2012 to the first half of 2014, we have successfully prosecuted about 150 foreigners for false credentials. All were sentenced to imprisonment terms and subsequently had their work passes revoked and were barred from working in Singapore,” he said.
Mr Tan also revealed that MOM has taken a risk-based approach to improve and strengthen the credential checks, including:
- supplementing checks with third-party overseas screening agencies
- verifying the authenticity of certificates directly with the issuing educational institution
- requiring the applicant to upload proof of diplomas and higher qualifications authentication
“MOM will take strong actions against those who make false declarations in work pass applications. If members of the public know of such offences, they should report the matter to MOM,” Mr Tan added.
Yang Yin’s EP approved in 2009
One of the high profile cases featured in the media recently was Yang Yin, a former PRC tour guide who eventually became a PR and grassroots member in Singapore.
The Chinese media earlier reported that Yang had allegedly obtained money from 82-year-old widow Mdm Chung Khin Chun to procure a fake degree in China (‘Yang alleged to have bought fake degree for S$4,000‘).
An acceptance letter supposedly from the “University of Financial and Trade Beijing China” (北京财经贸易学院) showing that Yang was apparently “accepted” by the university to study for a bachelor’s degree in 2006, was produced:
The Chinese media also reported that the said university cannot be found in the official university listing from China’s Ministry of Education.
TRE also searched the Internet using the university’s name (北京财经贸易学院) and found many interesting entries. One of them was a question posted on a Chinese forum in November 2012, asking if it is too expensive to buy a degree from the said university for CNY8,000 (S$1,600) [Link]. Other postings said the university does not exist [Link].
And then, there was a news article published in July this year, exposing a list of 150 fake universities in China [Link]. 北京财经贸易学院 is listed as one of them:
Yang set up a company in 2009 with Mdm Chung and obtained his EP to work and stay in Singapore. According to ACRA records [Link], the company, Young Music & Dance Studio, only has a paid-up capital of $10,000.
To qualify for an EP in 2009, the foreign PMET had to be paid at least $3,000 in salary. At the time when Yang’s EP was approved, MOM was under the purview of Minister Gan Kim Yong.
MOM said it’s investigating the matter.
Meanwhile, Yang has been slapped with 11 charges (‘‘Foreign talent’ Yang Yin slapped with 11 charges‘) on 31 Oct. He was accused of falsifying the accounts of Young Music & Dance Studio Pte Ltd between 2009 and 2014 while being a director of the company.
Court papers stated that Mr Yang had “wilfully” falsified receipts of payment to Young Music and Dance Studio, when there were no such payments. He was said to have created fictitious receipts reflecting payments for “painting” and “piano classes”. The payments range from $1,000 to $5,500. In other words, he is alleged to have created fictitious revenue for the company so as to pay his monthly salary “legally” in order to support his EP.