SINGAPORE: The Singaporean firm — which aided the recruitment of Filipino fisherman Eril Andrade, who died on board a Taiwanese fishing vessel — has been cleared of all charges by the Singaporean Ministry of Manpower (MoM).
Channel News Asia quoted MOM as saying that the agency had conducted a thorough probe of the company months before the complaint filed by the victim’s family complaint but found an earlier complaint to be unsubstantiated.
The ministry thus did not open fresh investigations into the complaint lodged by Eril Andrade’s brother in November 2011, the report said.
The tragic experience of Andrade, who died in February 2011, was reported by The New York Times earlier this month, it added.
Hailing from a village in the Philippines, he got a job on a Taiwanese fishing vessel through a Singaporean firm called Step Up Marine Enterprise.
He paid recruitment fees, arrived in Singapore in September 2010 and died on the fishing vessel, which arrived at the Singapore port two months later in April 2011. His brother filed a complaint against Step Up in November 2011 with the MOM.
The MOM further said it had received two complaints against Step Up, in May and November 2011. The first was by a non-governmental organisation alleging that Step Up had arranged for three Filipinos, not including Andrade, to be employed on a Taiwanese fishing vessel, where they were later owed salaries and incurred financial penalties for the early termination of their contracts.
The MOM added that it investigated and found no evidence that Step Up operated as an unlicensed employment agency.
Meanwhile, on the trafficking allegation, MOM reportedly said that it ascertained that Step Up was not involved in the direct recruitment or placement of these workers in Singapore. The MOM could not investigate allegations of trafficking activities outside Singapore because it did not have legal powers to investigate extra-territorial acts in 2011.
The spokesperson added that there were never any allegations of demands for sexual favours or of unsanitary and crammed housing conditions, which were reported by The New York Times to have happened when the men arrived in Singapore and were put up in an apartment in Chinatown while awaiting jobs, Channel News Asia reported.