A 40 year-old Singapore PR, Sheng Jianzhong, formerly a managing director at a construction firm Sheng Yu Construction Builders, was fined S$169,000 for demanding money from foreign workers in exchange for employment. This is the highest fine dished out by the courts since the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA) was enhanced in November 2012.

Sheng was also sentenced to 3 weeks’ jail for assaulting a Ministry of Manpower (MOM) officer. Sheng was charged with 38 counts of receiving kickbacks from 24 foreign workers, 1 count of obstruction of justice and 1 count of use of criminal force on a civil servant, the MOM said yesterday.

Sheng received a total of S$85,380 in kickbacks.

Between September 2012 and January 2013, Sheng demanded S$7,200 each from 24 foreign workers as a condition for employment. In February 2013, MOM officers raided a construction site off Jalan Legundi near Sembawang Road after one of the workers filed a complaint. During the raid, Sheng grabbed the arm and thumb of an MOM officer who was trying to collect documentary evidence for the investigations. The officer suffered injuries as a result of the scuffle.

Sheng was sentenced in the State Courts on Monday. If he does not pay the fine, he will have to serve three months in jail, in default. MOM has also barred Sheng from hiring foreign workers.

Mr Kevin Teoh, divisional director of MOM’s foreign manpower management division, said: “We take a serious view of employers who collect kickbacks, as it further increases the debt burden of foreign workers and is detrimental to their well-being. We will continue to clamp down on such practices, as in the case of Sheng Jianzhong.

“With respect to using criminal force on a civil servant, perpetrators can expect the force of the law to be applied.”

Last year, 15 employers were convicted of receiving kickbacks, compared with 17 employers in 2013. Before Sheng’s case, the highest fine handed out for offences under the enhanced EFMA was S$36,000.

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