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Calif. AG Sues Car Wash|Owners for $6.6 Million

LOS ANGELES (CN) - California car wash owners, including the owners of Hollywood hotspot Koi, exploited workers, failed to pay taxes and unemployment, and operated without licenses, state prosecutors claim in a $6.6 million lawsuit in Superior Court.

Attorney General Edmund Brown Jr. claims members of the Sikder family and others "engaged in a pattern and practice of violating state law" by, among other things, denying employees overtime pay and regular breaks; failing to register as car washes; repeatedly paying wages with checks that bounced; and failing to withhold money for state income tax, unemployment and disability benefits.

The car wash owners also "willfully refused, and continue to refuse, to pay in a timely manner all wages due and owing to their former employees" who quit or were fired, Brown claims.

He demands restitution of at least $1.7 million for the alleged wage violations, $3.2 million in civil penalties for each alleged violation of the Business and Professions code, and $572,000 in statutory penalties.

Defendants are NDR, Sikder Group and affiliates, ZMS Group, ZMS Inc., ZNM Holdings, Gras II, Gras Inc. and Dipu Haque, an individual also known as Dipu Haque Sikder. Members of the Sikder family own Koi, a high-end Japanese restaurant with locations in West Hollywood, New York, Las Vegas and Bangkok.

The defendants own and operate one or more of the following car washes: Gold Rush Auto Spa and Gold Rush Auto Spa II, Laguna Hills Car Wash, Crown Valley Car Wash, Marina Car Wash, Laguna Hills Union 76 Station, Wash & Go Hand Wash and Wash & Go Hand Carwash Corp., Irvine Auto Spa, Sponges Car Wash and Bonus Car Wash.

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