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Customs officers arrest founder of collapsed Hong Kong bakery Crostini

(Source: Crostini / Instagram)

The founder of Hong Kong bakery chain Crostini has been arrested amid claims the company was still selling gift vouchers just days before it collapsed a week ago. 

Crostini had 15 outlets across the territory. All of them were closed leaving 100 staff with unpaid wages after founder Wong Kwong-fai said the company could no longer afford to pay its rent. Prior to the closure, the business had been surviving thanks to the government’s rent deferral scheme, which ended in July. 

Wong was quoted by the South China Morning Post saying he had borrowed HKD80 million (US$10 million) to pay staff while he sought new investors to keep the business afloat. Wong said that since the Covid-19 epidemic arrived, his business was selling just one-third the volume of its pre-pandemic sales. 

Today, the SCMP reported that Wong was arrested by Customs officers on Thursday on suspicion of wrongly accepting payments and was granted bail. 

An official from the Customs and Excise Department said 104 customer complaints had been received relating to 5300 vouchers and coupons with an estimated value of around HKD 270,000 ($34,000).  

Disgruntled customers have taken to social media to express anger at having bought gift vouchers and coupons in the days leading up to the chain’s collapse and are now out of pocket, but Wong said he never intended to deceive customers.

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