Fri, Jun 28, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Businesses urge help against Honestbee

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

An Honestbee food delivery box is pictured on a scooter in Taipei on May 2.

Photo: Chen Ping-hung, Taipei Times

Food and grocery delivery service Honestbee Taiwan still owes creditors about NT$50 million (US$1.61 million), government sources said, as representatives of more than 200 businesses protested in Taipei yesterday, demanding payment and accusing company officials of going into hiding.

A recent audit carried out at Honestbee Taiwan’s Taipei headquarters showed that the Singapore-based firm had accounts payable of NT$69 million as of last year and while some of the bills had been paid, it still owes about NT$50 million, said Chuang Wen-lin (莊文麟), a senior officer at the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ commerce department.

The ministry has been monitoring the Honestbee case after receiving complaints from local businesses about unpaid bills, dishonest business practices and financial coverups, Chuang said.

Honestbee executives had promised that its finances would improve after a new director took over its Taiwanese operations, Chung said.

A group representing 286 food suppliers and restaurant proprietors from across the nation went to Taipei City Hall to protest, asking for government help to get their money back.

The group has formed a “victims self-help association,” said their leader, businessman Chen Chien-hao (陳建豪).

Honestbee owes members of the group about NT$7.79 million, he said.

“Honestbee had disregarded our complaints and dealt with us in a dishonest way. We have called the company, but could not reach the executives in charge,” he said.

“When asked about the money it owes us, we always got the same response, that they would handle the bills as soon as possible, then we heard nothing more,” he said.

While Honestbee is a foreign company, it is registered with the ministry as a Taiwan-based firm. “So if Honestbee Taiwan were to declare bankruptcy, we are afraid that this foreign company would just slip out of Taiwan and our money would be gone, because no one would be responsible for the debts,” he said.

Started in 2014 by three Singaporeans — Joel Sng, Isaac Tay and Jonathan Low — Honestbee was touted as “Asia’s leading on-demand delivery service company.”

It launched in Taiwan in January 2016, with Sng the registered owner of local operations.

New Power Party Taipei City Councilor Lin Liang-chun (林亮君) accompanied the group at the protest, asking the authorities to help the local businesses.

“The central government and the ministry should be more proactive in studying these new business models and enacting laws to regulate them. Otherwise, there would be more victims of financial disputes and business fraud,” Lin said.

“We ask ministry officials to set up meetings to mediate talks for the two sides to find a solution,” Lin added.

Chen said the group hoped Honestbee officials would come forward and negotiate in good faith, or the group would consider filing a class-action lawsuit.

“Despite having money problems and unpaid bills, Honestbee is still advertising and seeking more business partners. Therefore Honestbee is suspected of engaging in fraud,” he said.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top