A businessman was yesterday fined $20,000 for illegally taking payments from his employees as a financial guarantee.
Lin Pinghe, a director of Yi Hoe Construction, was not allowed by law to do so.
He pleaded guilty to 20 counts of receiving $136,500 in prohibited payments from 20 workers from China in 2011.
The 54-year-old was also sentenced to four weeks' jail in a separate case of abetting Chinese national Weng Yanqiu to get a forged academic certificate from an agent in China in her application for an S-Pass in April that year.
He will begin his jail sentence on June 9.
Forty other charges of making false statements and failing to ensure that the foreign employees remained under the company's direct employment were considered during his sentencing.
Ministry of Manpower prosecutor Delvinder Singh said investigations showed that Lin, who was responsible for the daily operations of the company, received between $4,500 and $7,000 from each of the 20 construction workers.
Employers are not allowed to receive any sum of money from a foreign worker as a financial guarantee related, in any way, to their employment.
In the case of the forged certificate, investigations showed that Ms Weng, 25, furnished information to the Controller of Work Passes, which Lin knew was false.
She claimed that she had an accounting technician (intermediate level) certificate from Xiamen University, enabling her to get an S-Pass to work as an assistant accountant.
Ms Weng would not have been able to get an S-Pass if she had used her original certificate, the court heard.
The prosecution highlighted that the number of workers involved was substantially large.
Each of the 20 workers was made to pay mostly $6,500 to $7,000 at the start of their employment.
District Judge Low Wee Ping told Lin he was completely callous and hard-hearted and did not deserve to be an employer.
"How would you feel before you start work, your employer asks you for $10,000?"
He said Lin had, through his lawyer, repeatedly mitigated that he gave the workers a higher salary, but that was "trickery" as he was just returning them what they deserved.
This article was first published on June 3, 2014.
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