SINGAPORE: More people were convicted last year for entering into sham marriages, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said on Thursday (Feb 8).
Fifty-three people were convicted of offences related to marriages of convenience in 2017 – a 23.3 per cent spike from the year before, ICA said in its annual statistics report.
The report highlighted a particular case last year which led to the arrest of 12 people.
In that case, officers were looking into a suspected sham marriage between a Singaporean man and his Vietnamese wife - but found five other such couples during the course of their investigations.
These couples all involved Singaporean men and Vietnamese women, said the ICA. The men, aged between 24 and 57, entered into these marriages for money, while the women, who were aged between 23 and 34, wanted to prolong their stay in Singapore, according to the report.
Ten were sentenced to jail terms ranging from six to 18 months, while court proceedings are ongoing for the remaining two.
MORE SMUGGLING CONTRABAND
The number of contraband smuggling cases detected at checkpoints also rose by 2.6 per cent to 90,327 in 2017, from 88,050 in 2016.
"Despite stringent checks, an average of 247 cases of smuggling attempts continue to be detected at our checkpoints daily," said the report.
It also noted that heavy commercial vehicles continued to be used for smuggling contraband last year, calling this a "trend of concern".
The report highlighted a case in October last year, during which officers found 2,190 cartons and 202 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes concealed in the modified compartment of a fuel tank towed by a prime mover at Tuas Checkpoint.
In another similar incident, officers at Woodlands Checkpoint found 9,000 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes concealed in a consignment declared as assorted bread in a Malaysia-registered truck.
ICA Commissioner Clarence Yeo also warned the community to be alert in the run-up to Chinese New Year, with an increase in the number of travellers and goods passing through the checkpoints.
"Despite stringent checks, smuggling attempts have not abated. As such, we urge the community to be alert and collaborate with us to keep Singapore safe and secure," he said.
FEWER ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ARRESTED
A total of 186 illegal immigrants were arrested last year, a 14.3 per cent drop from the 217 arrested in 2016. The number of overstayers arrested was 990, down 6.7 per cent from 1,061 the year before.
The authority highlighted an incident in May last year, in which 12 Indonesian men aged between 18 and 41 were arrested for immigration offences and for peddling duty-unpaid cigarettes at Yew Tee Industrial Estate.
Though there was a decrease in the number of people arrested for harbouring immigration offenders, there was a rise in the number of people employing such offenders last year, said the ICA report.
The number of harbourers of immigration offenders arrested declined by 17.6 per cent to 252 in 2017, from 306 in 2016. However, the number of employers of immigration offenders arrested increased by 6.7 per cent to 48 in 2017, from 45 in 2016.