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Former California Fitness director escapes prison sentence after failing to pay staff

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A former director of closed-down fitness chain California Fitness escaped a three-year prison sentence on Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to 101 counts of failing to pay wages by the due date. During the court case, former director Wong Ping Kuen admitted to defaulting on HK$1.14 million in salary payments to staff.

Deputy magistrate Arthur Lam Hei Wei said the courts had a responsibility to safeguard employee benefits, the SCMP reports. But taking into account the fact that it was Wong’s first wage-related offence in 37 years of running a business, the court decided against a prison sentence. Instead, Wong was fined  HK$202,000 and ordered to pay outstanding wages of HK$379,000.

The ruling comes one year after California Fitness parent company JV Fitness shut down all its 12 outlets in Hong Kong following financial troubles, putting its 700 employees out of a job. Previously, 500 former staff members received HK$8,000 each in unpaid wages from the company’s provisional liquidator.

ALSO READ: Former California Fitness coach seeks HK$9m in compensation

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