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Parliamentary Replies

Audits to Ensure Jobs Support Scheme Payouts Have Not Been Made to “Phantom” Workers

10 May 2021
Parliamentary Question by Mr Murali Pillai:

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance whether the Ministry intends to conduct audits to ensure that Jobs Support Scheme payouts have not been made to “phantom” workers.

Parliamentary Reply by Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat:  

The Government takes a serious view of any attempt to defraud or abuse our schemes, including the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS). This includes the payment of purported mandatory CPF contributions for non-genuine, or “phantom” employees, with the intent of attracting JSS payouts for such phantom employees.

IRAS, as the administrator of JSS, has instituted a robust anti-gaming framework leveraging data from multiple sources to identify and detect abuse such as “phantom” employment. While we are unable to share the specifics of IRAS’ anti-gaming operations, this framework has been in place since the first JSS payout in April 2020. For cases suspected of higher fraud risks, IRAS requires the firms to authenticate their CPF contributions before the payouts are released. Cases with strong corroborative evidence to support JSS abuse are reported to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) for further investigation and prosecution.

Thus far, more than 5,000 employers have been selected for review by the anti-gaming framework. After further reviews, about $28 million of payouts have been denied to over 1,000 employers due to suspected abuse, and 10 employers have been referred to CAD.

The penalties for any attempt to abuse the JSS are severe. Offenders can be charged under Section 420 of the Penal Code, and may face up to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine.