F&B company behind Penang Culture restaurants fined $94,500 for false salary declarations

GD Group, the company behind Penang Culture, was convicted on Dec 27 last year of seven charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.
GD Group, the company behind Penang Culture, was convicted on Dec 27 last year of seven charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.PHOTO: FACEBOOK / PENANG CULTURE - STREET FOOD PARADISE

SINGAPORE - The food and beverage company behind popular restaurant chain Penang Culture has been fined $94,500 for making false salary declarations in work pass applications, the Ministry of Manpower said on Monday (Jan 14).

GD Group was convicted on Dec 27 last year of seven charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, with another 13 taken into consideration during sentencing.

The ministry has also barred the company from hiring foreign employees, it said in a statement.

According to its website, GD Group owns Penang Culture, which is touted as the first Penang-themed halal restaurant chain in Singapore. It also has a catering arm that offers live food stations at events.

Investigations found that GD Group had circumvented foreign worker quota rules by hiring foreigners on employment passes, but paying them less than the salaries declared in the work pass applications.

Between February 2013 and July 2015, the company falsely declared salary amounts of between $4,000 and $4,800 for 20 foreign employees to meet the salary requirement for employment passes.

However, the foreign employees were paid salaries of between $1,500 and $2,200.

In the statement, MOM's foreign manpower management division director of employment inspectorate Kandhavel Periyasamy said that GD Group had "gained an unfair advantage in hiring foreigners at the expense of other firms".

He said that MOM has a duty to protect the interest of law-abiding employers.

The ministry will continue to take stern action against errant employers to uphold the integrity of work pass controls, he added.

MOM said in the statement that all employers should make accurate, complete and truthful declarations in their work pass applications.

Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, those convicted of making false declarations may be fined up to $20,000 per charge, jailed for up to two years or both.

These offenders will also be barred from employing new foreign workers and renewing their permits of their existing foreign workers.

MOM also urged members of the public who are aware of anyone who has contravened the Act to report the matter via the MOM website or call 6438-5122.

All information will be kept strictly confidential, the ministry said.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, a GD Group spokesman said that the company deeply regrets the mistake that was made, and said that they would ensure that the incident will not recur.

"There is no excuse for us making false salary declarations and we take full ownership and responsibility for it," the spokesman said. "GD Group is committed to being a responsible and law-abiding organisation."