Singapore

'Jackpot Auntie' sued by company she helped start

"Jackpot Auntie" Choo Hong Eng, who was hailed for giving away $410,000 in casino winnings to charity, is being sued for more than $200,000 by the company she helped start.

Madam Choo, who is both shareholder and director of Kwan Inn Vegetarian Cuisine, has been accused of contract breaches, not fulfilling her director role and defamation.

The 63-year-old made headlines in October 2011 when Marina Bay Sands (MBS) Casino initially declined to pay her the $410,000 she won on its slot machines.

Claiming that the machine had been faulty, it instead offered her a car worth $250,000.

But MBS later relented, and Madam Choo gave all the money to nearly 30 charities.

She is contesting the claims by Kwan Inn and counter-suing it for not paying her salary as well as asking the court to declare merger documents signed last year as void.

These documents relate to last year's sale of a 50 per cent stake in Kwan Inn, which Madam Choo and a partner originally owned, to food and beverage firm Jus Delish Group.

Under the terms of the sale, Madam Choo was hired as brand ambassador for Kwan Inn at $8,000 a month and had to cease running the Kwan Inn (Geylang East) Vegetarian Food stall, which she owned, upon securing a catering licence for the company by Dec 28 last year.

Kwan Inn, which owns seven vegetarian food stalls, had been paying for the Geylang stall's overheads since July last year and collecting its revenues until April 16 this year.

It alleges that in April, it discovered that she had been ordering excess stocks that could not be accounted for when the sales revenue for the stall was tallied.

Among other things, she had put $25,786 on the stall's tab over just 13 days.

She also allegedly ignored instructions to stop work for two days to allow for the annual stock taking and continued to operate as if the stall was her own. The company sacked her on April 19.

Yet she refused to vacate the stall or hand over all sales revenue to the company and continued to run the stall for her own benefit, according to court papers.

The firm claims that it lost $200,000 in estimated revenue from the stall for April and May.

COURT INJUNCTION

Its lawyers applied for a court injunction earlier this month to stop Madam Choo from entering the Geylang premises and to hand over all sales revenues since April 16.

A High Court hearing on the injunction is due next month.

Madam Choo, in defence documents filed by her lawyer, argued that the merger documents she signed last year were different from terms that were orally agreed earlier.

She alleges that the deal was supposed to let her run the Geylang stall without interference from the company, which was to bear the running costs.

She says she is illiterate in English and claims that the contents of the documents were not explained to her.

She was also not allowed to seek legal advice.

When The Straits Times approached her yesterday at the Geylang stall, which has been operating since 1986, Madam Choo said she would respect any decision the courts make.

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