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Picsel US workers sue directors over 'unpaid wages'

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US ex-employees of Picsel, the Glasgow-based mobile software company that went titsup last year, are suing former directors of the firm for allegedly misleading them into working for free.

The five staff were employed by San Francisco-based Picsel Technologies Inc, a wholly-owned subsidiary of now-titsup Glasgow-based Picsel Technologies Limited.

The staff claim that that company directors Masood Jabbar and Imran Khand are guilty of "promising to compensate ... for the totality of their unpaid wages ... [while] knowing these statements were false". This resulted in them not getting paid for the best part of a year before the UK parent, Picsel Technologies Ltd, was wound up while the directors walked away from the firm's debts.

Picsel Technologies Ltd, chaired by Khand, collapsed, leaving creditors facing a payout of a penny on the pound according to the latest update (pdf) from the administrators.

That firm should not be confused with the currently-operating Glasgow-based Picsel Technologies Limited which is also chaired by Khand, who snapped up the assets of the former company from the administrators and promptly changed the name of the new company to match the old (the old company having been renamed "Lescip L", Piscel backwards, while in its death throes).

The two companies also have very similar logos. Visitors to the (new company's) site might also be confused by the assertion that it was established in 1998.

Old logo and new

Spot the difference - one is bankrupt, the other's doing fine

The US employees plan to sue for back wages, and say the two directors "had knowledge of the uncompensated work performed by Plaintiffs and in fact, knowingly permitted, encouraged and/or required that such work be performed".

The action is being brought in San Francisco as that's where Picsel Technologies Inc. was based, but as the employees are in different states it's a federal action.

Imran Khand is probably beyond the reach of the local courts, but the filing identifies Masood Jabber as a "resident of California" and the complainants reckon that puts him within their grasp. They're demanding a jury trial, though the initial hearing scheduled for Wednesday had to be postponed while an International Service Of Process is obtained for Khand.

Not that the staff wanted things to end this way. Bill Vanke, who headed up Picsel's US operations, told us he was interested in buying the company from the administrators but said the phantasmagoria of companies that share the Picsel name was impenetrable: "You don't know who owns what it is you're trying to buy".

When the company got wound up last year the remaining UK employees did get the money owed to them, though some ex-employees who'd left pre-collapse were still pursuing the company though the tribunal system to claim their cash. US employees were not so lucky, so while the administrators are offering creditors a penny on the pound the staff of Picsel Technology Inc aren't getting a penny at all. ®

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