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A Victorian restaurant owner is the first person to be criminally charged under Victoria’s new wage theft laws.

The restaurant owner faces up 10 years in jail and more than $1 million in corporate fines if found guilty.

Owner of regional restaurant the Macedon Lounge, Gaurav Setia, faces 94 criminal charges filed by the Wage Inspectorate Victoria in the Magistrates’ Court.

He is charged with allegedly failing to pay more than $7000 owed to four staff members over five months.

The laws introduced by the Victorian government in 2020, came into effect in July 2021 and make wage theft a criminal offence.

The Macedon Lounge is accused of breaching the laws by dishonestly underpaying staff entitlements, which include wages, superannuation and penalty rates, between July and November last year.

Setia is the company’s sole officer and is be the first person under the laws to be charged.

While wage theft is also a crime in Queensland, no restaurant or business owner has faced prosecuted.