KIM MACDONALD, The West Australian
August 16, 2011
A Perth company owned by a high-profile Malaysian politician is being
investigated by the Fair Work Ombudsman for allegedly failing to pay
employees at its Bibra Lake workshop.Oka Motor Company director
Vell Paari, who is also a member of the powerful central working
committee for the Malaysian Indian Congress, conceded yesterday that the
company owed workers weeks of outstanding wages.
A spokesman for some workers who would not be named said staff were owed up to 2Ã‚Â½ months pay.
unnamed spokesman said staff had been given only about 10 per cent of
their outstanding wages in a recent lump sum payment but it was not
enough to survive on.
At least three workers were forced to hock
family goods in order to put food on the table and some have been unable
to pay for petrol, according to the spokesman.
"The workers are
told every week that they'll get paid a few days later, but this has
been going on for weeks," the spokesman said.
"They are getting desperate."
workers have lodged a claim with the Australian Taxation Office for
unpaid superannuation and a complaint with the Australian Securities and
Investments Commission. Mr Paari said from Malaysia yesterday that
workers had recently been given up to 60 per cent of the due amount, and
the rest would be paid tomorrow.
He admitted there was a dispute about the size and number of outstanding payments to workers and creditors.
Mr Paari said he had had to wait for the completion of KPMG's audit before he could settle the matter.
businessman, who is also the communications chief for the Malaysian
Indian Congress and the son of its former long-standing president, said
he was not responsible for the unpaid wages.
Mr Paari said he
spent most of his time in Kuala Lumpur, and despite being Oka's
chairman and major shareholder, he said he did not know about the
company's daily operations. He blamed local managers for the problems.
Oka spokeswoman said about nine people were owed money, though conceded
there was a lot of confusion over the matter, and the number could be
Mr Paari said he would temporarily stop work at the Bibra
Lake workshop, which manufactures all-terrain trucks, to give him a
chance to "clean up the company".
He grew up in WA and studied at Bentley High School and Leederville TAFE.
Vell Paari's company under probe in Australia
Aug 16, 11 4:01pm
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A company said to be owned by MIC central working committee member S Vell Paari is reportedly being investigated in Australia for not paying its staff for up to two-and-a-half months.
The West Australian newspaper ran a story today claiming that the Fair Work Ombudsman has launched a probe into Oka Motor Company - in which Vell Paari is listed as a director - over the allegations.
NONEThe paper also said Vell Paari (right) - the son of long-serving former MIC president S Samy Vellu - had "conceded" that his Perth-based company owed workers weeks in outstanding wages.
It is understood that the workers lodged a claim with the Australian Taxation office for unpaid superannuation and also filed a complaint with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
The West Australian said Vell Paari, when contacted in Malaysia, had said that there was a dispute about the size and number of outstanding payments to workers and creditors, but stressed that up to 60 percent of the amount due had already been paid, with the balance to be paid tomorrow.
He said he had to wait for the completion of an audit on the issue before it could be settled, adding that he was not responsible for the unpaid wages.
Vell Paari reportedly said that despite being Oka chairperson and a major shareholder, he spent most of his time in Kuala Lumpur, did not know about the company's daily operations and blamed the local managers for the problems, The West Australian said.
The paper added that Vell Paari had decided to temporarily stop work at the workshop, which specialises in all-terrain trucks, so that he could "clean up the company".
'Millions of dollars siphoned'
Meanwhile, Vell Paari told Malaysiakini that he has hired international auditing firm KPMG to conduct a forensic audit on the Oka Motor's finances and to protect the company's intellectual property.
“I don't have an Australian working visa, so I appointed two persons to look into the running of the company - a chief executive officer (CEO) and a chief financial officer (CFO) .
“Six weeks ago, I received an email from one of the staff that their salaries were not paid... I suspected irregularities as we had money from sales, but millions have been siphoned out of the country into a private account,” he said.
According to Vell Paari, Oka's CFO Tom Ksserkas had confessed to misappropriating funds to the auditors and that he expects to receive a full report on the matter in the next few days.
“The company's intellectual property in the form of manuals were also found to be missing and that alone is worth AU$25 million,” he said.
Vell Paari added that he had to fork out AU$92,000 (RM286,381), which would be used to settle the employees' salaries.
He also said the CEO, Arthur Gold, resigned soon after the forensics audit was commissioned.
Auditors revealed that only two years of files were available and files from previous years were missing, said Vell Paari, adding that he would be lodging a police report on the matter soon.
“I have also decided that once we clear everything, I am closing down the manufacturing plant and moving it to Malaysia and to export out of Malaysia instead of Australia.... can't run anything overseas by remote control,” he said.
Additional reporting by S Pathmawathy