SINGAPORE: A 26-year-old man was sentenced to seven months in prison on Thursday (Aug 12) for harbouring an immigration offender.
A second charge of harbouring another immigration offender was taken into consideration during sentencing, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in a news release.
Singaporean Xu Yixuan had sublet a residential unit in Tampines to two female China nationals, Huang Huoying and He Lei, on Oct 27, 2019, without confirming that the two women had valid immigration passes.
Huang was charged a rental fee of S$110 per day, while He was charged S$120.
Xu signed the tenancy agreement for the unit in October 2019, but continued to live at his own residence in Woodlands.
The Tampines unit was raided in a joint operation by the police and ICA on Nov 4, 2019, where Huang and He “were found to have been engaging in vice activities”, ICA said. Both women had overstayed in Singapore.
Xu was identified as the main tenant of the unit after further investigations and he was arrested on Mar 24, 2020.
As Xu "did not exercise due diligence" in ascertaining that the women's immigration passes were valid when he sublet the unit to them, "he had committed an offence of harbouring immigration offenders under the Immigration Act”, ICA said.
Huang and He were both given warnings for their overstaying offences.
“The ICA takes a firm stance against any person who harbours immigration offenders,” the authority said.
“Those who wish to rent their premises must exercise due diligence in checking the status of their prospective foreign tenants to ensure that their status in Singapore is legal.”
Those renting premises to foreign tenants are required to conduct three mandatory checks, ICA said.
They must check the tenant’s original immigration or work pass; cross-check the particulars with the tenant’s particulars on their original passport; and verify the validity of the tenant’s pass with its issuing authority - ICA for immigration passes and the Ministry of Manpower for work passes.
Those found guilty of "recklessly" or knowingly harbouring overstayers or illegal immigrants face up to two years in prison, with a presumptive minimum term of at least six months, and a fine of up to S$6,000.
“Recklessly” is defined as having carried out only one of the three mandatory checks.
Those who negligently harbour overstayers or illegal immigrants by only carrying out two of the three mandatory checks face up to 12 months in prison, a fine of up to S$6,000, or both.