SINGAPORE - It grew from humble beginnings as a zi char stall in an industrial estate, to an award-winning restaurant chain with footprints in Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, China and Indonesia.
But popular restaurant group Paradise is in the soup, having been charged with tampering with the gas meters at 24 of its outlets.
No plea was taken yesterday from Ms Ng Siew Eng, who is representing the group, known for both fine-dining and casual Chinese eateries. The case will be mentioned again on Feb 28.
The chain was founded by restaurateur Eldwin Chua, 36, who went from running a zi char stall in Defu Lane to operating 34 restaurants under brands such as Seafood Paradise, Paradise Inn and Paradise Pavilion.
For his achievements, he was voted Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011, while his Paradise group was the overall winner in the Promising Brands category at the Singapore Prestige Brand Awards.
Court papers showed the alleged offences involved 24 restaurants and occurred between March and May 2012.
Seals meant to secure the bypass valve of gas meters were found missing. In some instances, the position of the valve was moved from "closed" to "open", allowing gas to flow without registering on the meters.
Eight of the restaurants also face a charge each of having dishonestly used gas which had been diverted past the meter, and was not reflected in the monthly bill issued by City Gas. There was no mention of any loss suffered by the gas supplier.
Of the 24 restaurants, 13 were Paradise Inn eateries, four came under Kung Fu Paradise, two were Seafood Paradise outlets, and one each was from Paradise Group Holdings, Paradise Dynasty, Paradise Pavilion, Taste Paradise and Canton Paradise.
They include outlets in Changi Airport, Suntec, Marina Boulevard, Orchard Road, East Coast Road and Jurong East Central.
The Paradise Inn outlet in Terminal 1 of Changi Airport faces two charges of tampering with its gas meter on April 5, 2012 and May 21, 2012. The penalty for altering and tampering with a gas meter is a fine of up to $10,000 and a jail term of up to a year. Dishonest use of gas could be punished with a fine of up to $50,000 and up to five years in jail.
The restaurants are represented by Mr Patrick Ong of law firm David Ong & Company while Mr Amarjit Singh and Mr Eric Tin of Donaldson & Burkinshaw are prosecuting on behalf of The Energy Market Authority, the regulator of the gas industry.
Source: The Straits Times by Khushwant Singh