Court Fines "thoughtless, Selfish, Greed-driven" Businessman

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25th October 2009, 12:00pm - Views: 451





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Fair Work Infoline: 13 13 94 





Media Release





     25 Oct 2009

Court fines “thoughtless, selfish, greed-driven”

businessman who underpaid staff but gambled

and lost millions 

A “greed-driven” Sydney businessman who admitted he gambled away millions of

dollars of his companies’ funds – yet failed to pay the wages of some of his staff

for almost six months - has been fined $52,000.

Handing down the penalty against Frank Huang, Chief Industrial Magistrate

Gregory Hart said it was “difficult to imagine a more thoughtless, selfish, greed-

driven or reprehensible attitude to employees”.

The Fair Work Ombudsman initiated legal action against Huang after his

companies went into liquidation last year, preventing the watchdog from seeking

fines and back-payment orders against the companies.

Huang, who did not participate in any court hearings, was the sole owner and

manager of telecommunications companies China Huge International Pty Ltd,

which traded as Optus World in Sydney’s Warringah Mall, and Chi Telecom Pty

Ltd, which traded as Chi Telecom.  

Chief Industrial Magistrate Hart found that Huang was centrally involved in the

underpayment of seven former staff - including some Chinese immigrant workers

with limited English - a total of almost $90,000.

Two workers were short-changed more than $20,000 each.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell welcomed the

penalty – which Huang must pay by November 18 – saying the Agency was

determined to hold to account individual company owners and directors who

deliberately cheated their workforce.

Mr Campbell said that despite Huang promising Fair Work inspectors he would

back-pay the money, cheques sent to the workers “bounced” when presented.

Chief Industrial Magistrate Hart accepted evidence that at least one of Huang’s

companies had profits of $600,000 a year, but Huang told employees his

companies had “cash flow problems related to gambling losses he had sustained

at a Melbourne casino”.  

“At different times, he claimed to have lost in excess of $2 million as a result of

his gambling activities in the casino,” Chief Industrial Magistrate Hart said.


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People Feature Fair Work Ombudsman 2 image






Fair Work Infoline: 13 13 94 


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“The picture which emerges is of the defendant owning two profitable businesses

which he used to fund his gambling activities without bothering to leave sufficient

funds to cover the day-to-day living needs of his own employees.

“In some cases, the claimants worked without pay for a period of almost six

months on the basis of promises and assurances given by the defendant.”

Chief Industrial Magistrate Hart said that despite Huang’s remarkable capacity to

inspire trust and confidence in others, these assurances “inevitably proved to be

worthless”.

“In my view, it is not overstating the position to say that the defendant had no

qualms about deliberately defrauding and cheating his employees over an

extended period of time,” he said.

The underpaid workers lodged complaints with the Fair Work Ombudsman in

2007.

When the companies went into liquidation, the Fair Work Ombudsman

successfully assisted the workers to recover most of their entitlements through

the General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme (GEERS).

Mr Campbell said he hoped the penalty against Huang sent a strong message to

individual company owners and managers about their lawful obligations to staff.

“We will not hesitate to pursue individuals who we find exploiting workers in this

manner,” he said, adding that the courts were taking a dim view of unfair and

unacceptable workplace practices.

The Fair Work Ombudsman promotes harmonious, productive and co-operative

workplaces. It also monitors compliance and investigates breaches of national

workplace laws.

Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline

on 13 13 94 or visit www.fwo.gov.au. For translations call 13 14 50.




Media inquiries: 


Craig Bildstien, Director Media & Stakeholder Relations. 0419 818 484.

craig.bildstien@fwo.gov.au


Ryan Pedler, Senior Adviser Media & Stakeholder Relations. (03) 9954

2561, 0434 365 924. ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au






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