Media personalities Daniel Ong and Jaime Teo — the founders of Twelve Cupcakes — were charged on Tuesday (Dec. 29) with violating employment laws.
According to CNA, Ong, 45, is accused of allowing the local bakery chain to underpay or fail to pay within a fixed time the salaries of eight foreign employees between 2012 and 2016.
The eight employees had salaries between S$2,000 and S$2,600 a month.
Twelve Cupcakes was started by Ong and Teo, who were then a married couple, in 2011.
They divorced in 2016, and subsequently sold the company in 2017 to the Dhunseri Group, an Indian tea company, reported Yahoo News.
“Errant third party agent”
In a post on his Instagram account, Ong alluded to an “errant third party agent” being responsible for the violations.
According to Ong, the agent, who was used by Twelve Cupcakes to hire foreign workers, had “submitted documents and salaries we were not aware of until 2019”.
“But as directors of the company, (we are) liable,” wrote the former radio DJ.
In court, Teo’s lawyer Diana Ngiam echoed the sentiment saying: “Unfortunately she left this in the hands of others.”
Ngiam expressed gratefulness for the prosecution amendment of the charges to reflect 43-year-old’s negligence in the matter, rather than intentional breaches, reported CNA.
Teo — who arrived an hour late to the proceedings — intends to plead guilty.
Hiding the paper trail
According to CNA, Twelve Cupcakes pleaded guilty earlier in December to underpaying seven employees about S$114,000.
The offences came in a period of over two years between December 2016 and November 2018.
The Straits Times reported that Twelve Cupcakes initially credited the reduced salaries to the employees’ bank accounts before concealing the violation by paying the full salary and then telling the employees they had to return a portion to the company in cash.
Ministry of Manpower prosecutor Maximilian Chew said the bakery had done so to hide a paper trail of its offences.
Prosecutors are 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.
Ong and Teo will also return to court next month.
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.
Top image via Lindalino_Makeup Instagram & Jaime Teo’s Facebook