Former Miss Universe Singapore and Twelve Cupcakes owner Jaime Teo pleads guilty to underpaying foreign workers

05 Feb 2021 | Priya Bhardwaj

Miss Universe Singapore 2001 Jaime Teo pleaded guilty on Thursday, 4th February to underpaying foreign workers a total of almost S$100,000. Jaime is the co-founder of homegrown bakery chain Twelve Cupcakes which she helmed with her then-husband Daniel Ong.

Teo set up the cupcake business with former radio DJ Ong and her husband in 2011. They got divorced in 2016 and sold the company a few months later to India-based Dhunseri Group. The group grew the brand to 35 outlets in Singapore today.

At the hearing, the local celebrity admitted to 10 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, with another 14 charges taken into consideration for sentencing. As a director of the firm, Teo allowed Twelve Cupcakes to underpay almost $100,000 in salaries of seven foreign employees who had worked at the bakery over about three years. To date, about $98,900 in salaries is still owed to the employees and no restitution has been made.



A post shared by Jaime Teo (@jmeteo)


The court heard that Teo was one of the main decision makers in the company, controlling the company's expenses and in charge of the employees' salaries, as both of them were signatories to the company's account.

Sometime in 2012, Teo and Ong decided to employ foreign workers to expand the business as they hired foreigners to fill positions for a pastry chef, sales executives and customer service executives. However, the company breached the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations 2012 by paying less than the fixed monthly salaries due to seven employees.

The workers were owed salaries of between $2,000 and $2,600 but were given between S$350 and S$1,400 less between September 2013 and November 2016. Teo failed to prevent the company from underpaying the workers and did not take any steps to ensure that they received their fixed monthly salaries.



A post shared by Jaime Teo (@jmeteo)


Teo will return to court at a later date for sentencing. For contravening work pass conditions, Teo could be jailed for up to a year, fined up to S$10,000, or both per charge.