$50m hole: Taxpayers could foot food outlet's huge wage bill
Fallen restaurant empire Criniti's collapsed with a staggering $50 million in debt, with more than $33 million owed to the Australian Taxation Office, according to liquidation documents submitted to ASIC.
On top of the $6.5 million owed to employees and $4.5 million that was put through the tills but never banked, the ATO has claimed that the Criniti's group, including 13 restaurants across NSW, Queensland, Victoria and WA, also owes a whopping tax bill of $33 million.
Criniti's also owes $6 million to hundreds of commercial creditors, including AGL Gas, Asahi Premium Beverages, Foodlink, Ribs and Roasts, Visco Selected Fine Foods and Robert Oatley Vineyards.
The group's assets are still being calculated but will not even come close to covering the $50 million Criniti's owes to its creditors.
Additionally, if Criniti's assets are unable to pay the $6.5 million owed to staff, that cost will fall on the taxpayer through the Fair Entitlement Guarantee (FEG) scheme.
The company's 13 stores gradually entered voluntary administration between November and April and have now all been investigated by forensic accountants Worrells, who have discovered shocking shortfalls.
About 800 staff working for the company across NSW, Victoria, WA and Queensland were found to have been underpaid over a long period and staff were not paid for their final two weeks, on top of unpaid superannuation, long service leave and annual leave.
Former Parramatta employee Artii Chitrakar, 25, said she is one of many Criniti's staff members who are now left thousands out of pocket.
She was not paid for her final two weeks of work at the restaurant and as a permanent part-time employee, had 46 hours of annual leave outstanding.
"There were people who had been working there for years who are owed much more and won't ever have access to their money," she said.
"We filled out a form from the administrators to write all the details of our weekly wages and annual leave but I don't know what is happening with that.
"I was unemployed for two months but now I have a new job at a cafe."
Worrells also identified $4.5 million that went missing from Criniti's locations between December 1 2018 and November 18, 2019.
The amounts were reached by calculating the money that went through store tills compared to what was banked.
Figures range from $21,000 missing from Woolloomooloo to $935,000 missing from Darling Harbour.
Worrells listed these shortfalls as "Unfair Director Related Benefits" on ASIC documents and confirmed they were investigating where the money went.
"We are investigating whether the Director and/or his family have received cash from the Company and other Companies in the group," the document read.
The director of the whole group is listed as founders Frank Criniti's mother Rosa Criniti.
Frank, Rosa, Frank's father Cosimo and Frank's ex-wife Rima have been rotated in and out of company positions for a decade.
Frank's brother Dominic was the general manager until 2018 and Frank's sister Kathy was the CEO for a short period in 2019.
The Criniti family have previously declined to comment.
Originally published as $50M hole: Taxpayers could foot Criniti's wage bill