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Nightspot operator withheld passports and salaries of 3 women; jailed 41 months for labour trafficking

Nightspot operator withheld passports and salaries of 3 women; jailed 41 months for labour trafficking

A general view outside the nightspot Jaiho at 46 Dunlop Street in September 2016. (Image: Google Street View)

SINGAPORE: A 47-year old man has been sentenced to 3 years and 5 months in prison, and fined S$27,365 over three charges under the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act 2014, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Tuesday (Apr 19).

Alagar Balasubramanian, a Singapore permanent resident, was also ordered by the court to pay S$2,722 in compensation.

He was convicted on Feb 21 for labour trafficking offences relating to his work as the operating manager of Jaiho Club, an entertainment establishment formerly located at 46 Dunlop Street.

If Balasubramanian fails to pay his fine, he will be jailed for an additional 20 weeks. If he fails to pay the compensation, he will face two more weeks in prison.

MOM was first alerted to the case in June 2016. Investigations revealed that Balasubramanian had interviewed and hired female work permit holders for performing artiste jobs at Jaiho Club. The trial involved three of these work permit holders.

“Prior to entering Singapore, the work permit holders were made to sign contracts that were not fully explained to them,” MOM said in a media release.

“(Balasubramanian) then imposed onerous financial demands that the work permit holders would not be able to repay if they wished to leave their jobs.

“They were not paid any salaries throughout their employment.”

The women also endured physical and psychological abuse during this time.

“(Balasubramanian) subjected the work permit holders to constant distress, including seizing their passports and mobile phones, and threatening to cause them physical harm if they returned to India without his approval,” MOM said.

“Two work permit holders were even subjected to physical assaults.”

MOM said it provided assistance to the three women and ensured that they received appropriate care.

“MOM investigation officers visited them regularly to check on their physical and mental well-being, and we even engaged professional counselling services to look after their emotional needs,” the ministry said.

“To help in their rehabilitation process, we also supported the work permit holders to gain temporary employment under the Temporary Job Scheme.

“All three women have since safely returned to India.”

Balasubramanian is the third person to be convicted under the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act 2014.

Under the Act, those found guilty of trafficking in persons face a mandatory prison term of up to 10 years and a fine of up to S$100,000 for their first offence. They also face up to six strokes of the cane.

For second and subsequent offences, offenders can be jailed for up to 15 years and fined up to S$150,000. They also face up to nine strokes of the cane.

Source: CNA/kg

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