Singapore – Former model Jaime Teo Chai-lin,43, was fined S$65,000 on Tuesday (March 9) for her involvement in underpaying the foreign workers of Twelve Cupcakes, a home-grown confectionary chain which she co-founded.
Singaporean artiste Ms Teo pleaded guilty to 10 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act on Feb 4. Fourteen other charges were taken into consideration during her sentencing, reported straitstimes.com.
Twelve Cupcakes was founded in 2011 by Ms Teo and her then-husband and former radio DJ, Daniel Ong Ming Yu, 45.
The following year, the couple decided to employ foreign workers, said Ministry of Manpower (MOM) prosecutor Maximilian Chew to the court.
Between 2013 and 2016, four customer service executives, two sales executives and a pastry chef were underpaid. The pastry chef, for example, was promised a monthly salary of S$2,300 in mid-2014 but received S$1,600 monthly until mid-2016.
In 2016, Ms Teo and Mr Ong sold the company to Kolkata-based Dhunseri Group for S$2.5 million.
The court heard that the balance of salary totalling S$98,900 from the time the couple owned the company remains unpaid.
Ms Teo’s lawyers Sunil Sudheesan and Diana Ngiam told the court in mitigation that their client never played a decision-making role in human resource (HR) matters of the business when she was the director of Twelve Cupcakes.
They added that Ms Teo was not aware of the differences between the declared salary and actual amounts received by the workers.
In an Instagram post on Tuesday (March 9), Ms Teo apologised for being “neglectful” while she was involved in the company.
“I can finally throw some light on this case – wasn’t allowed to talk about it while it was ongoing: I unfortunately signed off on many things without a second glance and left matters to the external agency that was engaged by HR,” said Ms Teo.
“I only learnt of what was going on when investigations started. As far as I know, we paid all our employees what was agreed with them.”
“Regardless, I am sorry for my negligence,” she added.
Twelve Cupcakes’ current owner was fined S$119,500 on Jan 12 for underpaying seven of its foreign employees in 2017 and 2018. One of them received only about half the declared salary at times.
Mr Ong was also charged with 24 counts under the Act last year. His case is pending.
Under the Act, each charge can result in up to one year in jail and up to S$10,000 in fines./TISG
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