Friday, 19 July 2013

More foreigners caught with fake certificates

Record 53 nabbed so far this year compared to 43 for whole of 2012
By Toh Yong Chuan, The Straits Times, 18 Jul 2013

INDIAN national Praveen Kumar Bollu was hired by dance studio Prabhudeva Dance Academy here as a dance instructor and choreographer in July last year.

Armed with an Indian university degree, he obtained an Employment Pass - a permit for foreign professionals working in managerial, executive or specialised jobs.

His wages were considerable, at $4,700 a month. But the 27-year-old was living a lie. He had faked his university degree.

He was among a record number of 53 foreigners caught for forging educational qualifications this year, more than the 43 nabbed during the whole of last year.



The authorities revealed that 25 were charged in court on Tuesday, after a crackdown by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Court papers obtained by The Straits Times showed that 24 foreigners - with the exception of Praveen - lied so as to obtain S Passes.

Among the two dozen were salesmen, chefs and a hairstylist. S Pass holders are mostly junior executives whose employers pay lower levies and face fewer hiring restrictions.

The foreigners, who came from Myanmar, India and the Philippines, all pleaded guilty.

Twenty of them - including Praveen - were jailed for four weeks.

The remaining five are serving jail terms of 20 days each as they were unable to pay court fines of $5,000.

These foreigners will be deported after serving their jail sentences and will be barred from working here in the future.

The latest crackdown came after a law was amended last September. Now, the forging of educational certificates is a standalone offence whereby the foreign worker may be jailed for two years and fined $20,000.

Previously, the maximum penalty was a year in jail and a $15,000 fine.

Labour MP Zainal Sapari applauded MOM for the crackdown: "These foreigners who falsify their documents do so because they do not qualify for the work passes. Through false pretence, they take away jobs that could have otherwise gone to Singaporeans."

He also urged MOM to turn its attention to the bosses: "The Government can send a signal that it will also clamp down on errant employers and agents."




Measures to deter foreigners with fake certs

THE Ministry of Manpower (MOM) takes a firm stance against foreigners who submit false qualifications to fraudulently obtain work passes ("Foreigners with fake certs: Should checks be tightened?" by Mr Ong Chiew Leong; last Saturday).

Over the years, we have strengthened our processes and fraud detection capabilities. These include enhancing our internal database checks, supplementing these checks with third-party screening agencies, and checking the certificate's authenticity directly with the issuing educational institute. We also conduct retrospective audits.

Since February, employers and employment agents are required to upload verification proof of diplomas and higher qualifications for applications for the Employment Pass, S Pass or Training Employment Pass.

The requirement was introduced for educational qualifications obtained in China as there were already established channels for verification. We are also identifying similar verification channels for qualifications from other source countries.

We also amended the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act last year and made the submission of false qualifications a standalone contravention with stiffer penalties. Offenders may be fined up to $20,000 and/or jailed for up to two years.

The 25 foreigners convicted recently for using false education certificates in work pass applications were investigated after MOM had verified that the certificates were forged.

We will also take action against errant employers and employment agents if they have abetted such acts.

Members of the public who have information of such offences can contact MOM on 6438-5122 or e-mail mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg

Penny Han (Mrs)
Controller of Work Passes
Ministry of Manpower
ST Forum, 24 Jul 2013




Foreigners with fake certs: Should checks be tightened?

I WAS surprised to read that 25 foreigners were convicted of falsifying documents to obtain work passes ("More foreigners caught with fake certificates"; Thursday).

It was also mentioned that the number of foreigners caught for this offence so far this year has exceeded the total for the whole of last year.

The jobs they took could have gone to qualified Singaporeans.

One needs to ask serious questions about the process of dishing out work passes.

Can the Manpower Ministry comment on the process of verifying academic qualifications before approving work passes for foreigners?

Can the process be reviewed and tightened? How did the 25 foreigners obtain approval, and how were they found out? Does the ministry conduct retrospective checks on work pass holders?

With the insatiable demand for foreign labour in Singapore, we need a robust process to weed out frauds.

Ong Chiew Leong
ST Forum, 20 Jul 2013


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