George Calombaris has finally broken his silence on his wages underpayment scandal, after it was discovered in 2017 that he had underpaid staff more than $7.8 million over a six year period.
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The MasterChef judge is now trying to clear his name, saying he isn't a wage thief, after being ordered to give the government $200,000 after he underpaid 515 staff between 2011 and 2017.
Speaking to Herald Sun, George apologised, saying that he was deeply sorry, and that he didn't deliberately underpay staff.
"There are two important things for Australians to know. The first is that when we discovered there were incorrect payments to members of the team, we self reported to the Fair Work Ombudsman and co-operated with their investigation," he told the Herald Sun.
"The second is that our team members, past and present, have been back-paid in full, and the vast majority repaid before October 2017 in consultation with Fair Work.
"There is no excuse for this and we have the systems in place now."
George owed an estimates $2.6 million to staff in 2017, but it was revealed on Thursday that figure had tripled.
He initially blamed the issue on 'historically poor processes', but it turned out that his company, MAdE Establishment, had a number of breaches, including failure to pay split shift allowances, minimum award rates and penalty rates, after an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
MAdE Establishment also failed to keep records for the number of hours salaried workers had completed, The Age reported.
As he has already paid back the staff he underpaid the business will continue to be audited for the next three years to ensure it doesn't happen again.