Man arrested after forging visa papers
Police yesterday arrested a broker for forging documents for 45 Vietnamese migrant workers, to help them obtain Korean visas in exchange for 7 million won to 14 million won ($6,601 to $13,184) per person.
The 73-year-old man, identified only as Chae, pocketed 540 million won from the scam, according to the authorities. The 45 migrant workers were also arrested by the South Gyeongsang Provincial Police Precinct but were not detained.
According to police, the men managed to secure work visas after Chae modified their career certificates claiming that they all had five years of experience as welders. At the time of their arrest, the migrants were participating in a state-funded program aimed at hiring experienced workers in the shipbuilding industry.
“If a certain company hires a worker who doesn’t have the skills listed, then that triggers safety concerns and compromises the credibility of the company,” the international crimes division of the police said in a statement.
The state-run program, led by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica), sought to recruit 200 welders from Vietnam, China, Thailand and Bangladesh in 2011. It was established in response to a suggestion by an association of small and midsized shipbuilding firms that Korea hire more welders due to a projected increase in overseas orders and a rebound in the business sector.
At the time, the ministry required that program workers have at least five years of relevant experience and a certificate from the International Association of Classification Societies.
Police are looking into other potential discrepancies in the program.
“This is not only illegal but also has the risk of causing industrial accidents if undertrained workers keep working at shipbuilding companies. This is precisely why we are trying to widen the investigation,” the police said in a press release.
If found guilty, Chae and the migrant workers could face up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 20 million won.
The link between illegal brokers and foreign workers has been a headache as of late for law enforcement agencies. According to a survey by the Korea Independent Commission Against Corruption, more than 40 percent of foreign workers in Korea have paid extra money to enter the country.
In a survey of 144 foreign workers from the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, 40.3 percent said they had paid broker fees on top of official visa fees.
BY PARK EUN-JEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]