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Fri, Feb 23, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Employees contend firm was out to swindle them

CRINGE BENEFITS The vice manager of a consulting firm says he was duped into paying NT$200,000 for perks such as hotel discounts and low-interest loans

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Taipei consulting firm took hundreds of thousands of dollars from its employees by coercing them into purchasing "company membership" cards, a Taipei city councilor and the firm's employees alleged yesterday.

In addition, employees of California Management Consulting (加州企業管理顧問公司) say they were never paid for their work.

But a manager for the consulting firm denied the allegations yesterday. "I don't know what they're talking about. The only thing I know is that what they have said is bogus," said Chao Tai-lung (趙泰龍), a company manager, during a phone conversation with the Taipei Times.

The allegations were aired yesterday during a press conference held by Taipei City Councilor Pang Chien-kuo (龐建國) of the People First Party, who was responding to a petition filed by six former employees of California Management Consulting.

"I just don't want any more people to be fooled and hurt again," Pang said.

A representative of the group of employees, who would only be identified as Hsu, said he knew something was amiss when he joined California Management Consulting last year.

"When I joined the company as a vice manager in December, they told me that I was covered by national health and labor insurance just like everybody else," Hsu said.

"They also told me that if I purchased the company's membership card, I would become a company shareholder and be entitled to many privileges, such as hotel discounts, low-interest loans and free legal advice," he said.

Hsu purchased four membership cards for NT$200,000, spending NT$50,000 on each. He bought four membership cards hoping that the more he spent, the more he would recover from his investment later.

But Hsu said he became suspicious when he failed to receive his first paycheck.

"First, the company told me that I was not covered by the insurance policies because I was not in any of the high-ranking management positions, and then I found out that the company was a sham," he said. "At that time, I knew I was conned."

Hsu said he hasn't received a single NT dollar for the two months he worked there. Although he later demanded a refund of the NT$200,000 he had invested, what he received were rubber checks with a face value of NT$260,000.

"Unfortunately, I'm not the only victim. There are at least seven to eight employees who are in the same boat as I am, suffering more financial losses than I do," he said.

But Chao, the company manager, said California Management Consulting did nothing wrong and treated employees in accordance with contracts signed with them.

"I have no idea why they're doing this to hurt the company's reputation, nor do I understand why the city councilor believes what they say," Chao said.

"It might have something to do with the upcoming elections. Who knows? But we're considering the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the group. We won't be afraid if they dare to file one against us."

Pang yesterday asked the city's Bureau of Labor Affairs to work with municipal police to protect the rights of employees of the consulting firm and other companies.

"I'm sure it's not an isolated case," Pang said.

Wang Ching-lin (王慶麟), deputy commanding officer of criminal investigation under the Taipei Municipal Police Headquarters, urged the employees to report the case to police as soon as possible. "We'll launch an investigation as soon as the complaints are filed," Wang said.

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