SINGAPORE: The mastermind of a scam to obtain Singapore work permits for foreigners was on Thursday (Jan 7) sentenced to 16 months in jail.
Filipino Celeste Provido Apostol, 36, was charged with 32 counts of making false declarations in work pass applications and a count of carrying out activities of an employment agency without a licence, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a news release. She pleaded guilty to 16 charges and the other 17 charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
Apostol, who was working as a marketing manager in Singapore between 2009 and 2011, had helped foreigners to obtain work permits for foreign domestic workers (FDW). However, the foreigners had no intention of working as FDWs.
She worked with “recruiters” to look for these foreigners who wanted work permits to validate their stay in Singapore, as well as locals who were willing to provide their particulars as “employers” for monetary gain.
Apostol would use the particulars she obtained to arrange for work pass application forms to be submitted to MOM between June 2009 and March 2013. In total, she found 27 foreigners and 21 locals to take part in the scam, and she collected between S$3,500 and S$4,000 from each foreigner.
None of the work permit holders were found to be working as maids, and some of them were working as performers, freelance cleaners and manicurists, said MOM.
The foreigners involved in the scam were fined between S$3,000 and S$10,000, and sentenced to four weeks' jail. They will be sent home and permanently barred from working in Singapore, said MOM. Meanwhile, the bogus “employers” will be banned from hiring any foreign workers.
Since 2014, 78 people were convicted of giving false information to MOM to obtain work passes. Those convicted could face a fine of up to S$20,000 and up to two years in jail.