F&B firm fined for making 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

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 (MOM) said yesterday.

GD Group was found guilty last month - on Dec 27 - 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 GD Group had "gained an unfair advantage in hiring foreigners at the expense of other firms".

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

A GD Group spokesman told The Straits Times that it deeply regrets the mistake that was made, and said it will ensure that the incident does not recur.

"There is no excuse for us making false salary declarations and we take full ownership and responsibility for it," the spokesman said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2019, with the headline 'F&B firm fined for making false salary declarations'. Print Edition | Subscribe