MOM deceived into issuing Employment Passes to 20 “foreign talents” who did not meet requirements

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The national broadsheet reported today that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) was deceived into issuing Employment Passes (EPs) to 20 foreigners who did not meet strict requirements.

MOM only issues EPs to eligible foreigners who meet certain criteria, for them to legally work here. The eligibility criteria includes acceptable qualifications and a minimum $3,600 monthly salary.

Between Feb 2013 and July 2015, the Ministry was conned into issuing EPs to foreigners who did not meet these requirements. Food and Beverage company, GD Group which runs the Penang Culture chain of restaurants, falsely declared that it was paying 20 foreign employees salaries between $4,000 and $4,800 when it only paid them $1,500-$2,200.

MOM has said that GD Group falsely declared the salaries since there is no quota imposed on foreign workers who are hired with an EP, since they are considered to be “skilled” PMETs.

By falsely declaring the salaries and ensuring that these workers got EPs, GD Group did not have to hire locals or be subject to foreign worker quotas that they would face if the lower-paid workers did not have EPs.

MOM has since fined GD Group $94,500 and barred the company from hiring foreigners, for making the false declarations in official documents. It said in a statement: “MOM has a duty to protect the interest of law-abiding employers. We will continue to take errant employers to task by ensuring a level-playing field for businesses.”

Interestingly, this is not the first such incident. In 2014, employers and employees who operate 7-11 convenience store franchises were convicted of similar offenses.