SINGAPORE: Twelve Cupcakes founders Daniel Ong and Jaime Teo were charged in court on Tuesday (Dec 29) with breaching employment laws, in the latest of legal troubles for the homegrown bakery chain.
Ong, 45, received 24 counts under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act for offences allegedly committed while he was at the helm of the cupcake chain.
Ong is accused of allowing Twelve Cupcakes to underpay or fail to pay within a fixed time the salaries of eight foreign employees who had worked at the bakery between September 2012 and December 2016.
Most of the charges are for underpaying the eight employees, whose salaries were set between S$2,000 and S$2,600 a month.
Ong is also accused of allowing Twelve Cupcakes to fail to pay an employee his monthly salary of S$2,000 within a stipulated timeframe on three occasions.
Ong arrived in court on Tuesday with his wife Fay Tan. His lawyer, Kalaithasan Karuppaya from Regent Law, told the court that he had just been briefed on the case and would be taking full instructions from his client.
He was granted an adjournment of four weeks.
Former radio DJ Ong set up Twelve Cupcakes in 2011 with his then-wife Jaime 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 35 outlets in Singapore today.
Teo was given similar charges after arriving more than an hour after Ong's case was heard, with lawyer Diana Ngiam of Quahe Woo & Palmer.
Ms Ngiam said she was grateful that the prosecution would be amending the charges to reflect Teo's negligence in the matter, as opposed to intentional breaches.
"Unfortunately she left this in the hands of others," said Ms Ngiam. "Nonetheless, we are grateful also that the prosecution is seeking a fine."
She said Teo intends to plead guilty.
Twelve Cupcakes, under its new ownership, pleaded guilty earlier this month to underpaying seven employees about S$114,000 over two years between December 2016 and November 2018.
READ: Twelve Cupcakes pleads guilty to underpaying foreign employees, prosecution seeks S$127,000 fine
In mitigation, the new owners' lawyer said they had continued the practice that was installed by the previous management, by indicating on paper a salary that was higher than what the workers actually received.
The prosecution is seeking a fine of S$127,000 for Twelve Cupcakes for 15 charges, with another 14 charges taken into consideration. Sentencing for the firm has been adjourned to January.
If found guilty of contravening work pass conditions, Ong and Teo could be jailed for up to a year, fined up to S$10,000, or both per charge.
Both will return to court next month.