SINGAPORE - The founder of a popular chain of restaurants was taken to court on Thursday for allegedly falsely declaring the salaries of his workers and lying to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
Mohamad Hafiz Salim Alkhatib, 37, faced a total of 41 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.
He is the owner of H. Alkhatib, a restaurant business registered to 22 Dunlop Street, which is the address of one of the outlets of The Malayan Council.
The Malayan Council is known for its Malay-Western fusion dishes and cakes, and currently has a total of four outlets at Dunlop Street, Bussorah Street, Winstedt Road and Esplanade Mall. Its Ondeh-Ondeh cake has been featured in numerous listicles to rave reviews.
Hafiz is alleged to have lied to the authorities about the salaries of his workers in declarations for work pass applications, and also instigated 13 of them to lie to MOM in 2019. The 13 workers involved were in positions ranging from restaurant managers and supervisors to customer service executives.
A charge involving one of the 13 workers said he paid the employee $200 less each month than the declared salary between February and August 2019.
Hafiz is alleged to have also instigated Ms Sheikhah Mumtaz Sheikh Mustafa, the director of The Malayan Council, to lie to the authorities regarding the work passes of the workers on three occassions.
He is also alleged to have employed two other foreign workers at The Malayan Council’s Bussorah Street outlet without valid work passes in 2019.
Hafiz, who is currently out on $15,000 bail, has given multiple media interviews since 2015 promoting The Malayan Council.
According to court records, his wife is about to give birth soon, and his lawyers have sought an adjournment for more time to make their case.
The records also noted that there is “likely to be (a) lengthy custodial term due to (the) nature of offences”.
The case is expected to be heard again on Dec 27.
If convicted of making a false employment declaration, he may be jailed for up to two years and fined up to $20,000 for each charge.