SINGAPORE — Former actress Jaime Teo, co-founder of Twelve Cupcakes, was on Tuesday (9 March) fined $65,000 for neglecting to ensure that the confectionary chain paid seven foreign employees their full salaries for more than three years.
The 43-year-old had last month 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 in sentencing.
The offences took place between 2013 and 2016. The full salaries of the seven employees were between $2,000 and $2,600.
The underpayment amounted to $98,900. No restitution was made to the employees.
About the case
Teo founded the confectionary chain in 2011 with ex-husband and radio DJ Daniel Ong Ming Yu while they were still married. They divorced in 2016.
At the time, she was the director and main decision maker and controlled the company’s expenses. As they were were signatories to the company’s account, Teo and Ong were responsible for employees' salaries.
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 Teo failing to take steps to ensure they received their proper salaries. Teo ceased to be a director on 15 December 2016 when the business was sold to an investor company.
Ministry of Manpower Prosecutor Maximilian Chew had sought an $80,000 fine while defence lawyer Sunil Sudheesan sought a $20,000 fine.
In mitigation, Sunil had told the court that Teo handled product development and marketing. “Specifically, her role was not to deal with human resources or admin or not to deal with operations and not to deal with business development. That was in the realm of three other directors,” he said.
Twelve Cupcakes’ human resources director later employed a third-party employment agency. “Specifically, she (Teo) was not involved in discussion with regard to employment details. She did agree with the decision on what salary ranges should be and she did not have any sort of substantial contact with the third-party agency,” he added.
Ong’s case is still pending before the court.
Earlier this year, Twelve Cupcakes was fined $119,500 in relation to similar offences.
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