Recently I received an email from a man seeking help and advice, as he had been charged with operating an unlicensed employment agency in Singapore. The email is below:

I would like to ask a question (opinion) in regards to Employment Act 6 (1).

MOM is charging me with Illegal recruitment EA 6(1) for 1 count, and my court date will be the end of next week.

I am a foreigner, the ACRA is under my name, and I am the director. My EP is under the company. It’s a consultancy company: first activity is training, second activity is import export product under ACRA. 
Training (Aviation – AME Aircraft Mechanic Engineer training for General Familiarization and B1, B2) & ( FnB – HR training).
Product (biodegradable product and machines, grocery product, software, coffee, coal and precious metals).

Under the HR training I referred the applicant for TEP Training Employment Pass for two companies. I had a total of 11 applicants from October 2011 to May 2012; eight were referred by friends. I collected a consultancy fee as written in the receipt of SGD1500 per person.

How did I do it? I put ads online. The applicants responded to my ads, and I gave them instruction through emails and SMS to go directly to the FnB company.

The FnB company interviewed them, and once they were selected, the FnB company processed their application, which included keying in their application directly. (I didn’t have involvement in the process of their application.) Once their application was approved, I collected the consultancy fee. I thought this was legal until I found out that what I was doing was illegal on the day of my arrest, June 18, 2012.

I am the only person in the company working, there are loads of things I am doing, and I was not aware that I was doing illegal recruitment.

I have been waiting for my case for seven months, and I’ve already suffered too much. In MOM action, they want me to plead guilty, then case closed (penalty of SGD 20,000 and up or jail). Then they will put my case on the Internet together with my photo, and it will spread all over Asia (really I just wanna die). 
If I had money I’d want to fight for the case, but I can’t afford to stay here, pay the lawyer, and other expenses.

I know that I made a mistake, but that mistake was not intended. What do you think is the best defense that I can do to lighten my penalty if the judge will allow me to speak?

Thank you in advance.

Here are my answers to him:

It seems that the MOM had good grounds to charge you in this aspect.

In Singapore, not knowing is not a good excuse to be pardoned. The activity of getting involved with clients is already breaching the law.

As for your case, the maximum penalty is an $80,000 fine and/or jail up to two years.

The best defense is that you can speak about your family and other sentimental values, which are reasons that may have some standing. But your chances of winning will not be very high, unless you have evidence that the activities are not carried out by you.

God bless.

For this case, I would like to advise that operating an unlicensed employment agency in Singapore will never be “profitable,” as the penalty will be high. Not only that, once you are convicted, whether you are fined or jailed, you will never be able to enter into this industry under your own name.

The risk is very high, and there are many existing employment agencies that will let the Ministry of Manpower know if one is operating without a license. In addition, there are many people who work fulltime to detect such activities. The number of people who are being engaged to spot such illegal activity is very astonishing. They are EVERYWHERE!!!

Be good, be nice, be proper…. cheers!

An article by Dougles Chan, SEO Singapore Master


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