Defense lawyers for Twelve Cupcakes, a previously celebrity-owned pastry store chain said that the management only continued the previous owners’ labor practices–which included underpaying their foreign workers. The chain was previously owned by now-divorce celebrity couple Jamie Teo and Daniel Ong.
Twelve Cupcakes pleads guilty to underpaying their workers
According to a report by The Straits Times, “On Thursday (Dec 10), the company pleaded guilty to 15 charges of underpaying the employees in 2017 and 2018, an offence under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.”
The company had been underpaying seven of their their workers for two years, with one worker receiving an amount that was just half of what was the initially agreed-upon wages. At the time the company committed the crimes, all seven exploited employees were S-Pass holders, but court documents did not show whether they were still working in Singapore at this time.
The Kholkata-based Dhunseri Group acquired the business from celebrity owners Daniel Ong and Jamie Teo in 2016. The business entity paid $2.5 million. The previous owners had divorced that same year, and have a six-year-old girl from that marriage.
Twelve Cupcakes, under the Dhunseri Group, paid the seven employees involved in the case amounts ranging from $1,400 to $2,050 when their salary was supposed to be $2,200 to $2,600.
The employees who were underpaid mostly had positions in customer service and sales, but one of them was a pastry chef. Some of the workers were underpaid for more than a year, with the reduced amounts being remitted to them from December 2016 to September 2018.
Some of the workers also had the lowered wages for longer than that.
Singapore’s Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations 2012 stated that employers are not allowed to pay less than the fixed monthly salary to foreign employees. The amount should also be remitted to the workers no more than seven days after the agreed payday.
Court said Twelve Cupcakes tried to hide their exploitation
Aside from actually underpaying the workers, the company had gone through unnatural lengths to conceal their crime, going as far as to ask the employees to return cash.
The company had credited the full, correct amount of their salaries to their accounts from May 2018 onwards, but required the employees to pay back some of it in cash to the business. This was to conceal the paper trail of various violations, with official bank accounts reflecting the correct amount but the actual money that the employees received in the end was not the agreed-upon salary.
The prosecutor in the case said that if there were no complaints and the Ministry of Manpower did not investigate, the company would have continued exploiting their workers in such a way.
The defense, on the other hand, said that the full amount of restitution was made even before court proceedings began.
The sentencing was slated for January 7, with the prosecution asking the court to mandate a fine of $127,000.
Header image from Twelve Cupcakes website