On 11 June 2021, 37-year-old Indian national Paramasivam Seeman was sentenced to 9 months’ and 2 weeks’ imprisonment for harbouring an immigration offender at a unit located in Rowell Road, and for intentionally perverting the court of justice by instructing the main tenant of the said unit to give a false statement to an Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officer.
2. On 30 June 2020, ICA officers conducted a check at a unit at Rowell Road and arrested a 26-year-old Sri Lankan national Abdul Cadeer Naina, who had remained unlawfully (or overstayed) in Singapore for a period of 150 days, after the expiry of his visit pass. Investigations revealed that Paramasivam had sublet a bedspace in said unit to Abdul Cadeer Naina who did not offer to show any identification documents to Paramasivam nor did Paramasivam ask him for any documents to verify if his stay in Singapore was valid. Paramasivam claimed that he was managing the unit on behalf of the main tenant.
3. It was also revealed that Paramasivam had deceived his friend to sign a tenancy agreement as the main tenant for a unit at Rowell Road, where the immigration offender was discovered. The main tenant was misled to think that the tenancy agreement was for a unit at Buffalo Road where he was residing and went to sign the document without reading the contents. When the main tenant was interviewed by ICA officers, he revealed that he was contacted by Paramasivam to provide a false statement, as well as how to respond to potential questions posed by the ICA officers in relation to the harbouring offence. However, the main tenant ignored Paramasivam’s request and provided a factual account of the events. Further investigations revealed that Paramasivam earned additional income while renting the unit at Rowell Road for his colleagues to stay there.
4. As Paramasivam did not exercise due diligence by carrying out at least two out of three checks required under the law before allowing Abdul Cadeer Naina to stay at the unit he had rented, he had committed an offence of harbouring immigration offenders with reckless disregard under the Immigration Act. Paramasivam was also charged with intentionally perverting the course of justice by instructing the main tenant to give false statement to an ICA officer.
5. Abdul Cadeer Naina has since been dealt with for his overstaying offences. He was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment and three strokes of the cane on 6 July 2020. The main tenant was administered with verbal advisories as it was established that the unit was sublet by Paramasivam without his knowledge.
6. The ICA takes a firm stance against any person who harbour 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:
- Check the tenant’s original immigration/work pass;
- Cross check the particulars on his/her pass against the particulars on his/her original passport; and
- Verify the validity of his/her pass by checking with the issuing authority (i.e. the Ministry of Manpower for work passes and the ICA for immigration passes - Student’s Pass and Long-Term Visit Pass).
7. 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
11 June 2021