RESTAURANT chain Paradise Group has been fined S$530,000 for tampering with gas meter installations at its restaurants.
The fine comes on top of over S$600,000 that the group - behind restaurants such as Canton Paradise and Beauty in the Pot - will have to pay for gas that it had consumed illegally.
The company was found guilty of 29 charges of tampering gas meters and dishonestly consuming gas, said the Energy Market Authority on Friday.
Piped gas distributor City Gas had in March 2012 detected an abnormally low consumption of gas at Taste Paradise, a restaurant at the Ion Orchard shopping mall.
An inspection it carried out with SP PowerGrid then revealed that the restaurant's gas meter installation had been tampered with: the lock on the gas meter bypass valve - which allows for maintenance works without disrupting gas supply - was different from those used by SP PowerGrid, and the bypass valve had been opened, allowing gas to flow without registering on the meter.
Inspections carried out the following month at 23 other Paradise Group restaurants uncovered similar tampering work.
EMA deputy chief executive (regulation) Yeo Yek Seng said that the theft of utilities is unacceptable and results in other consumers having to pay more. "Tampering of meters may also possibly disrupt gas supply and pose safety risks," he said.
"EMA will take firm action against anyone who tampers with their gas meters and tries to dishonestly consume gas."