Recruitment agency with scrapped licence found still operatingDepartment of Foreign Employment intensifies monitoring after an agency was found holding hundreds of passports and money of aspirant migrant workers even after it had been barred from operating.
Despite their licences having been scrapped, some recruitment agencies involved in hiring and supplying Nepali workers for foreign employers have been found to be carrying on with their business, regardless.
In a recent incident, Sea Link Overseas Services Pvt Ltd—a recruiting agency based in Chappalkarkhana, Kathmandu—was found running its business, despite its licence being cancelled more than a month and a half ago.
After the government had hiked the bank guarantee amount, which was required to operate the business, a number of recruiting agencies had closed shop since they were unable to deposit the money and several others went for a merger with other agencies.
Licences of already existed recruiting agencies which neither deposited the new guarantee amount nor could go in for a merger were automatically cancelled and they were barred from conducting their business.
However, a raid by the Department of Foreign Employment, on Monday, found that Sea Link Overseas was still holding passport of aspirant migrant workers and money paid by them for jobs abroad. The team promptly sealed its office.
“After cancellation of their licence, such recruiting agencies were asked to return passports and money, if they had taken them from workers,” said Baral. “Our raid on Monday found that there were nearly 150 passports at their office which had still not been returned to the respective holders.”
He said when the department team had reached the recruiting agency, following the complaints by some aspirant migrant workers who had submitted their passports to the company, some 70-80 people were found to be waiting on its premises in the hope of getting their money and documents back.
According to Baral, almost half of them had already paid the money for jobs in various labour destination countries. The company’s proprietor, Anish Sundas, was missing from the scene at the time of the raid. The department team again went to the Sea Link Overseas on Wednesday and seized a total of 522 passports.
The team also unearthed sufficient evidence to show the company had been running its business by collecting passports from candidates. Last month, one of the staff members of the same recruiting agency was held by police in Boudha with around 150 passports.
As the deadline for depositing the new guarantee amount ended in the first week of September, the number of recruiting agencies that were actively operating has come down to 848 from 1,323, after some companies failed to produce the amount whereas others went in for a merger. Licences of as many as 303 agencies were scrapped because they could not submit the required amount.
Poor Nepali migrant workers being cheated by recruitment agencies is not new. Last August, a Battisputali-based recruiting agency was found collecting money and passports for sending workers to Malaysia, which was then banned for months by the government.
The department has intensified its monitoring of recruitment agencies following Monday’s sealing drive, especially keeping an eye on those agencies whose status had been rendered invalid following their failure to deposit the new guarantee amount.