Six recruitment agents and university employees on Wednesday were charged with aggravated fraud in connection with the alleged illegal employment of Sri Lankans who came to Taiwan to study.
Prosecutors at the Shilin District Prosecutors’ Office in Taipei found that the three agents traveled to Sri Lanka in 2017 to host a recruitment event. The agents told students that they could study at a Taiwanese university for free, and the university would offer them work and internship opportunities for a fee of US$1,000 for flights and visas, the prosecutors said.
After 69 Sri Lankan students had signed up, the agents contacted then-University of Kang Ning president Huang Yi-chun (黃宜純) in an attempt to place the students, the prosecutors said.
The agents told Huang that the students could enroll at the university, which at the time had experienced a decrease in enrollment, while they would work at a food processing company, they said.
The agents had at the time already arranged for employment and accommodation, the prosecutors said.
Huang agreed to the offer as she feared that government subsidies to the university might be cut due to lower enrollment numbers, they said.
The Sri Lankans arrived in Taiwan in late 2017, and 50 of them were sent to work at a slaughterhouse for 40 hours per week, even though they had not yet been granted work permits, the prosecutors said.
The students only attended classes for two days a week at the university’s Taipei campus, they added. The other 19 students refused to work at the slaughterhouse and enrolled at the university’s Tainan campus, the prosecutors said.
After the students working in the slaughterhouse complained about working conditions, Huang arranged for their transfer to the Tainan campus, they said.
Local media began reporting on the case in November 2018. The prosecutors said that the university had received NT$40,000 in government subsidies for the enrollment of the Sri Lankan students, and charged Huang and two other university staff involved in the deal with aggravated fraud.
The three recruitment agents were also charged with aggravated fraud and for breaching the Employment Service Act (就業服務法), they said.
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