Local entrepreneur “Prawn King” Umance Chong (锺宏绅) is known for a lot of things. Regretfully, they aren’t good. Umance last made the news over a certain scandal involving a ‘fake’ holiday package at Laguna Redang Island Resort. Suffice to say, the incident left many wondering about his integrity as a businessman.
Unfortunately, his reputation hasn’t gotten any better since. In fact, in light of recent events, it may have gotten worse. Investors who backed Umance on his SuperM Wholesales Mart venture are now claiming that Umance cheated them of their money and owes them a lot of cash.
The entrepreneur’s downward spiral of his reputation began after one investor took to Facebook to air his grievances. According to them, Umance had not managed the SuperM business well. They claimed that there were problems with the management of the business. First, their seafood items ran out of stock. Then the investor received multiple invoices for the same items. Umance also once asked his investors for RM90,000 for more goods. Although they compromised and only gave RM30,000, the goods never appeared.
The investor pointed out that these weren’t problems that couldn’t be solved. In fact, Umance once stepped in when he admitted he wasn’t keen about opening the branch in Sunway. The entrepreneur’s intervention got everything moving smoothly again and at a rapid pace. “I wondered why the Prawn King didn’t help me solve this problem sooner,” the investor said. “What were they trying to hide?”
However, the one-time assistance eventually amounted to nothing as the franchise continued to fall to ruins. The investor added that the Prawn King now owes a lot of them money. “Each of our stores has an average loss of about 300 to 400 thousand since we opened,” he stated.
Umance himself later responded to the issue, claiming his innocence. He denied owing anyone money and claimed the investor was slandering him. He supposedly told China Press that he hadn’t pocketed any money, nor was he sure what had happened with the store management. Umance alleged that the investor was simply dissatisfied with his investment failing. “I didn’t cheat them of their money,” he reportedly said. “Those hundreds of thousands of ringgits are the cost of doing business.”
Umance went on to claim in a Facebook post that he was the one who lost the most money as he invested the most in his business. “The investors only gave RM50,000 as a management fee,” he said. “RM300,000+ from the investors was given as capital for the shop. This included décor costs, fridges and supplies.” Umance also made it clear that SuperM, as an independent company, in no way affects his other business ventures.
Unfortunately, Umance’s response didn’t calm things down. The opposite happened in fact. It prompted others to come forward and speak their piece. Another investor shared his side of the story with China Press, and it supposedly corroborated with the first investor’s tale. “(The branch in Seri Kembangan, Selangor) was forced to close because there was no supply (of goods) at all,” he said. He also added that Umance notably made a lot of promises but held up none of them. Additionally, he claimed Umance would shirk responsibility of running the business.
A company who apparently did the construction for a few SuperM stores also alleged that Umance still owes them money for the work. They apparently sent a lawyer’s letter to obtain their dues, but were given cheques that couldn’t be cashed in. One investor of the SuperM branch in Johor Bahru even bluntly stated he was taking over the shop. He has changed the name and look of the store and is hoping to start afresh.
Well, once is an accident, twice is a coincidence. Three times is a pattern. However, Umance isn’t afraid of any lash back. In fact, the entrepreneur claims how SuperM is handled is his business. “If it’s a scam, the police will definitely catch up,” he added.
In the meantime, Umance promises he will continue to work on his tourism business instead. Who knows, that might just save his already downhill reputation.