Embattled firm settles staff salaries after half a year

A Singaporean molecular diagnostics company has finally managed to pay off debts to over 200 staff after coming under judicial management in February

After a series of troubles spanning back to the end of 2014, molecular diagnostics firm, Vela Diagnostics, has managed to settle its debts and pay off its staff salaries for the past six months.
 
At the end of last year, the company became insolvent after its primary investor pulled out. In February 2015, the firm came under interim judicial management and in March staff learned they could not be paid until new funding from investors was secured.
 
On 14 September, Vela Diagnostics came out of judicial management after reaching an agreement with new investor, Luye Group, a Chinese pharmaceutical firm.
 
The company has since settled all debts and staff salary claims. “We feel sorry for all the inconveniences caused to our staff and their families,” chief executive, Michael Tillmann, told The Straits Times.
 
Deloitte & Touche were judicial managers for the firm from February to September. While no staff had to be let go to rehabilitate and revive Vela Diagnostics, only about 80 staff remained by May with most resigning from their positions. The company had around 210 employees worldwide prior to insolvency.
 
Esther Chew, marketing communications manager, told The Straits Times that staff were not required to report to the office from February to May. Their notice period was also waived if they wanted leave.
 
“Although I was concerned about not being paid, we were reassured constantly by the CEO and management that they would do their utmost to work out a solution,” she said.
 
Some former employees have since applied to work again at Vela Diagnostics with the total workforce predicted to be 120 by the end of 2015.
 
The Ministry of Manpower was unable to assist employees for a firm under judicial management, a spokesperson said when contacted by AsiaOne in March.
 
“When a company is under judicial management, the assistant commissioner for labour at MOM is not able to inquire into the salary claims of employees covered under the Employment Act, except with the consent of the judicial manager or with leave from the High Court.”
 
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