Hundreds of investors, suppliers, staff of seafood restaurant seek their dues

KUALA LUMPUR: Hundreds of investors, suppliers and workers of a popular seafood restaurant want answers from the company, which closed down in September, after it failed to pay them their dues.

More than 30 of them showed up at the office of MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong (pic) to seek his help in the matter.

"We have set up a task force that includes a team of lawyers and a chartered accountant to look into reasons why the company has failed to pay these people their dues," Chong said.

It is understood that about 400 investors invested in the restaurant and more than 30 employees are affected.

Chong said he received many complaints from the company's employees who claimed that the company had stopped making Employee Provident Fund (EPF) and the Social Security Organisation (Socso) payments since September 2019.

He also said investors and suppliers were also waiting for promised returns.

"All they know is that the company had closed down but while they understand that times have been difficult lately, they have the right to know why they haven't been compensated," he said.

Chong added that the company may owe more than RM10mil to its investors, suppliers and workers.

He said the group had many questions about the matter and the chartered accountant in the task force would conduct forensic accounting to look for possible signs of criminal breach of trust.

He added some of the victims have also lodged police reports and are hoping investigators could provide some answers.

Lim Terk Yu, the head chef at the restaurant, alleged that the company had stopped making EPF and Socso contributions since early this year and had also slashed their salaries.

"When we enquired, the company tried to avoid the question and only said it would make contributions later," he said.

Lim, 37, only found out in August that the company was going to close down but it still owed him two months’ salary.

He said workers had also lodged a complaint with EPF on the matter.

Meanwhile, investors did not suspect anything amiss with the company when they made their investment and thought everything was going well.

One of them, Joyce Yang, had invested about RM23,000 in the company and claimed the company had promised a 12% return on her investment in February.

"However, I still haven't seen any of the returns," she said.

A contractor that helped the restaurant renovate seven of its outlets in Kuala Lumpur since 2018 is also still waiting to be paid.

Siew Kok Kit said the renovation works cost about RM1mil and the company had only managed to settle half of its debt.

"The company has been delaying payments since last August and in June this year, they agreed to settle their outstanding debt in RM19,000 instalments over 24-months starting in October.

"However, we have yet to receive any payment," he said.

Siew said he was caught in a bind because he also had to pay other suppliers for materials for the renovation works.
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