SINGAPORE: Twelve Cupcakes co-founder Daniel Ong was fined S$65,000 on Friday (May 21) for breaching employment laws when he was running the homegrown bakery chain with his then-wife Jaime Teo.
Ong, 45, pleaded guilty to 10 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, for allowing the firm to underpay or fail to pay within a fixed time the salaries of seven employees. Another 14 charges were considered in sentencing.
In his capacity as a director of the company, Ong failed to prevent the company from committing such acts and did not take any steps to ensure that the employees received their fixed monthly salaries as required during the offending period of three years and two months.
In a few instances, workers went without their salaries within a stipulated timeframe.
Ong has not made any restitution to the employees, who are owed S$98,900 in total.
The prosecution asked for a fine of S$65,000 for Ong, saying Teo was fined S$65,000 in March for similar charges. He said the discovery of the offences was "fortuitous" as the new management continued the offences and were nabbed.
Ong's lawyer asked for leniency, saying Ong is remorseful, fully understands his mistakes and has cooperated with authorities.
He added that Ong's previous business ventures suffered because of the pandemic and he is seeking a fresh start. He has remarried and is expecting a child in August.
"This was his first business venture and he was learning things as a director for the first time," said the lawyer. "He sincerely apologises for his mistakes and is paying the price now."
Ong, a former radio DJ who now runs a steakhouse at Serangoon Gardens, set up Twelve Cupcakes in 2011 with Teo, whom he married in 2007.
They divorced in 2016 and sold the company a few months later to India-based Dhunseri Group, which grew the brand to more than 30 outlets in Singapore.
The bakery chain, under its new owners, was fined S$119,500 in January for continuing the underpaying practice.
When the media was taking photos of Ong as he left the court, he muttered an expletive under his breath, directed at the photographers.