Cash for visa firm must pay former senior employee €12,400

Huawen Foundation did not pay salary but told Revenue it had for tax purposes

A firm promoting Irish property investments under the Government’s cash-for-visas scheme has been ordered to pay a former employee €12,400 after failing to give him his salary for four months.

It had, however, submitted payslips to Revenue indicating it had made salary payments between November 2020 and February 2021, leaving Daoquan Zhang liable for income tax on money he never received, he told the Workplace Relations Commission.

In a decision published on Friday, the WRC upheld Mr Zhang's complaint under the Payment of Wages Act against Huawen Foundation Ltd, where he had worked as director of international investment on a salary of €37,500.

The company failed to appear for a remote adjudication hearing in February.

"When the pandemic hit, the company didn't run well," Mr Zhang said in evidence. "I understood that, [but] in Ireland we have pandemic supports. For some reason they didn't apply."

He said he last received his salary in October 2020 but continued to work until February 2021 without pay until he gave his notice. He told adjudicating officer Hugh Lonsdale he was seeking his unpaid wages and the holiday pay he was owed.

“That’s four months without being paid,” he said. “They issued payslips [but] I have evidence of my bank statement, no transactions from November onwards.

“Basically I’m in debt with Revenue for over €1,600 for tax I haven’t paid,” he added. “That’s the part that got me really mad. Revenue said they can’t do anything. It’s okay, I understand [if] I can’t be paid, [but] you shouldn’t file my payslips, that’s the thing.”

He said he did not receive the payslips in question from his employer. “I downloaded them from Revenue. They filed my payslips to Revenue,” he said.

“I asked when I’d be paid but they didn’t reply,” Mr Zhang said.

Ruling

Mr Lonsdale ruled Mr Zhang was entitled to €12,400 in gross pay for the four months during which he had not been paid.

Huawen Foundation is wholly owned by UK businessman Kai Dai, the chief executive of real estate investor Kylin Prime Group, which has subsidiaries in Ireland, Switzerland and Cyprus.

“All our investment opportunities qualify for Irish residency under the Irish Immigrant Investor Programme”, its website homepage states.

Until early February, Huawen Foundation had an address at a Georgian townhouse office on St Stephen's Green in Dublin, when it changed its registered office to the Nuremore Hotel & Country Club, Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan.

Individual applicants to the Immigrant Investor Programme can choose to invest €1 million in an Irish business for a minimum of three years; €2 million in any real estate investment trust on the Iseq; or to make a €500,000 philanthropic donation.

A 2017 review found over 90 per cent of applicants to the scheme were Chinese nationals. Data released by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee in response to a parliamentary question last November revealed that 1,400 visas have been issued under the scheme since it was established in 2012.