Construction firm boss fined, jailed for collecting kickbacks, assaulting MOM officer

Construction firm boss fined, jailed for collecting kickbacks, assaulting MOM officer

SINGAPORE - The managing director of a construction firm has been fined $169,000 and sentenced to three weeks in jail for receiving kickbacks from employees and for assaulting an officer from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

From September 2012 to January 2013, 24 foreign workers hired by Sheng Jianzhong, 41, were each required to pay him $7,200 as a condition for employment.

The kickbacks received by the accused amounted to $85,380, the MOM said in a statement today.

The ministry raided Sheng's construction site off Jalan Legundi, near Sembawang Road, in February 2013 after a complaint filed by one of the workers.

"During the raid, when an MOM investigation officer tried to collect documentary evidence for investigations, Sheng grabbed the officer's left arm and thumb to prevent him from doing so. The officer suffered injuries as a result of the scuffle," the MOM said.

For using criminal force on a civil servant, the Singapore permanent resident was sentenced to three weeks in jail at the State Courts yesterday. He was also ordered to pay $169,000, or commit to three months in jail in default of the fine, for 13 charges of receiving kickbacks.

He had been hit with a total of 38 charges. The rest were taken into consideration during sentencing.

"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," Mr Kevin Teoh, divisional director of the MOM's foreign manpower management division said.

Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, most monies collected from foreign workers will be deemed as employment kickbacks, unless the purposes for which they are collected can be properly accounted for.

Offenders found guilty of the offence can be jailed for up to two years, or fined a maximum of $30,000, or both.

In March this year, another person was convicted on three charges of receiving kickbacks, the MOM said.

Geng Shuzhen, a 45-year-old Singaporean, was fined $15,000 in total. In default of the fine was a penalty of six weeks in prison. 18 other charges were taken into consideration during the sentencing.

In 2014, 15 employers were convicted of receiving kickbacks, down from 17 in 2013.

huizhen@sph.com.sg

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