On 18 January 2019, 42-year-old Singaporean man, Tan Chuen Zin was sentenced to a total of eighteen months’ imprisonment and a fine of S$13,000 in default three months’ imprisonment for offences under the Immigration Act.
2 Tan, who was arrested in March 2017, was convicted for arranging two cases of marriage of convenience (MOC) between Singaporean men and Vietnamese women as well as harbouring the Vietnamese women despite knowing that they had contravened the Immigration Act. He also had other charges for abetting the Singaporean men in making false statements in the Visit Pass applications for the Vietnamese women and arranging another MOC involving also a Singaporean man and Vietnamese woman. These charges were taken into consideration in the sentencing.
3 In May 2016, David Sim, a 52-year-old Singaporean man approached Tan for job recommendations as he was in financial difficulties. Tan then asked Sim if he was interested to enter into an MOC in which Tan assured that Sim did not have to fulfil any marital obligations but was required to sponsor a Vietnamese national’s Visit Pass applications. In return, Sim would be paid a sum of S$4,000 and S$300 for every successful Visit Pass sponsorship. Sim agreed to the proposal.
4 In July 2016, 24-year-old Vietnamese woman, Tran Thuy Bich Tran approached Tan for advice to remain in Singapore as her work permit was due to expire. Tan suggested to Tran to enter into an MOC, and Tran would have to pay S$9,000 for the sham marriage arrangements and thereafter S$300 for every successful Visit Pass extension.
5 In the same month, Tan arranged for Sim and Tran to meet each other and in November 2016, they solemnised their “marriage” at a restaurant arranged by Tan. Tran paid S$9,000 to Tan and Tan gave S$4,000 to Sim as a reward for entering into the MOC. Tran did not live with Sim but stayed in Tan’s apartment and paid him S$530 monthly rental. Sim and Tran were later arrested by officers from the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) on 20 February 2017. Tran and Sim were sentenced to six months’ imprisonment each in March and April 2017 respectively for the MOC and offences of making false statement in the Visit Pass applications.
6 In May 2016, 27-year-old Singaporean man, Tan Jian You told the older Tan (Tan Chuen Zin) that he was facing financial difficulties and the latter suggested that he enter into an MOC for a reward of S$1,500. The younger Tan was told that he did not have to fulfil any marital obligations but would need to sponsor 23-year-old Vietnamese woman, Vo Thi Diem Kieu’s Visit Pass applications for her to remain in Singapore.
7 In July 2016, the older Tan arranged for Vo and the younger Tan to meet each other and subsequently in November 2016, they solemnised their “marriage” at a restaurant arranged by the older Tan. Vo paid the older Tan a total of S$9,000 after the solemnisation. In turn, the older Tan paid the younger Tan S$1,500 as a reward for entering into an MOC. Vo did not live with the younger Tan but stayed in the older Tan’s apartment and paid him a monthly rental of S$530. Vo and the younger Tan were also arrested by ICA officers on 20 February 2017. Vo and the younger Tan were sentenced to six months’ imprisonment each in March and April 2017 respectively for the MOC offence.
8 ICA takes a serious view of individuals trying to circumvent our system by engaging in or arranging/assisting to arrange marriages of convenience to obtain immigration facilities in Singapore. The penalties for the offence are a fine not exceeding S$10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years, or both.
9 ICA will continue to take firm enforcement action against errant couples and middlemen. We will spare no effort in investigating such cases, and will pursue every available lead. We welcome members of the public to report any suspected case of marriage of convenience to ICA at 1800-391 6150. Any information provided will be treated in strictest confidence.
10 The ICA also takes a firm stance against any person who employs or harbours immigration offenders. 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. They are required to conduct the three mandatory checks:
a) Check the tenant’s original immigration/work pass;
b) Cross check the particulars on his/her pass against the particulars on his/her original passport; and
c) Verify the validity of his/her pass by checking with the issuing authority (i.e. MOM for work passes and ICA for other immigration passes such as Student’s Pass and Long Term Visit Pass).
11 If any person is found guilty of recklessly (i.e. carrying out only one of the three due diligence checks) or knowingly harbouring overstayers and/or illegal immigrants, he may be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not less than six months and not more than two years and a fine not exceeding S$6,000. If any person is found guilty of negligently (i.e. carrying out only two of the three due diligence checks) harbouring overstayers and/or illegal immigrants, he may be sentenced to a fine not exceeding S$6,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.
IMMIGRATION & CHECKPOINTS AUTHORITY
22 JANUARY 2019
Tan Chuen Zin (Photo: ICA)