SINGAPORE — Former radio DJ Daniel Ong Ming Yu was fined $65,000 on Friday (21 May) for neglecting to ensure that the confectionary chain he co-founded paid seven foreign employees their full salaries for more than three years.
The ex-director of Twelve Cupcakes pleaded guilty to 10 out of 24 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act for contravening foreign employees’ work pass conditions. The remaining charges were considered for his sentencing.
The offences took place between 2013 and 2016 – the full salaries of the seven employees then were between $2,000 and $2,600. The underpayment resulted in cost savings that amounted to $98,900 for the company, and no restitution was made to the employees, the court heard.
Hired foreigners to expand business
Ong, 45, founded the confectionary chain in 2011 with ex-wife Jaime Teo, who was fined $65,000 in March for the same set of offences.
In 2012, the duo decided to employ foreign manpower to expand their business and agreed on the salary ranges of these employees. The seven foreigners were issued S-passes.
The company underpaid the employees for three years and two months, with Ong failing to take steps to ensure they received their proper salaries.
The couple divorced in 2016. Ong ceased being a managing director on 15 December 2016 when the company was sold to investors.
Noting that Teo was also sentenced to $65,000, a Ministry of Manpower prosecutor sought the same fine, stating that Ong's culpability was the same and there was no evidence of "significant differences in personal circumstances".
Ong's lawyer Kalaithasan Karuppaya said that his client was seeking a "second chance" as he was "restarting his life". Ong has remarried and is expecting a child in August. He had also recently opened a steakhouse after his previous businesses suffered due to the pandemic.
Twelve Cupcakes was Ong's first business venture and he was learning things as a director for the first time, said the lawyer, who added that Ong had been focused on the operations and business development area of the business.
District Judge Adam Nakhoda said that similar considerations should apply to Ong as Teo and imposed the same fine.
Earlier this year, Twelve Cupcakes was fined $119,500 in relation to similar offences.
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