Computer company folds, leaving students stranded
August 11, 2002
The owners of Soft Tech, a computer service and training company, have packed up and left the country owing some $1.5 million to its former general manager and hundreds of thousands of dollars to students who had paid up for tuition.
Stabroek News has received letters from persons who were not provided with the services by the company which they had paid for.
This newspaper made contact with former general manager of Soft Tech, Vijay Rambrich, who now owns Software Technology, and who stated that he, too, had suffered losses when Soft Tech folded.
"You could imagine the position I was in. We owed people so much money and I also owed my friends. I ended up with a personal liability of about $1.5 million which I lent them [Soft Tech] to do business," he said.
Students were left abandoned with uncompleted courses but Rambrich has given the assurance that his new company has been offering those who had registered with Soft Tech the opportunity to finish off their courses with Software Technology at no additional cost to them.
Rambrich explained that Soft Tech had no assets in Guyana and was a subsidiary of Soft Tech World Trade based in Miami, so he and the students were left in a quandary as to how to get back their money.
The owners of the company were two United States citizens.
The local director was Wendy Hazel who told Stabroek News she had parted with the company before the problems arose.
Rambrich said his engagement with the company started when he was contracted as a financial consultant to correct the backlog in Soft Tech's accounts.
Eventually, he was hired as the general manager of the company in April this year.
The company folded on May 28 and Rambrich received a letter informing him that his services had been terminated.
Rambrich explained that the company was cash-strapped and owed rent of some US$10,000 for its Queenstown offices.
This matter was taken to court by the property owners.
The former general manager said that during this period, Soft Tech had acquired a contract to supply the Primary Education Improvement Project with computer equipment.
Knowing that this would bring in some income, Rambrich said he took the decision to inject some money into the business to support the contract.
He said he raised funds by borrowing from friends.
Due to the court case and the financial troubles Soft Tech was going through, Rambrich used some of the money he borrowed and moved the company's offices to the Caribbean Rose building on Middle Street, North Cummingsburg.
He said he spent his personal savings to get the building ready for the company. According to Rambrich, the owners of Soft Tech eventually agreed to pay US$6,000 of the rent they owed for the Queenstown property by May 28 and requested to be given time to pay the balance.
Rambrich alleged that the company continued to receive money for training and to acquire equipment for persons and businesses.
When Soft Tech failed to produce, the company said that it was having problems with its suppliers.
Rambrich said the inevitable happened on May 28 when he received instructions from the owners to terminate the services of his staff because the operations of the company would no longer continue.
He received his letter of termination the following day. Rambrich said after careful consideration, he decided to open his own computer training centre at the Caribbean Rose building.
He stated that because of the negative impact of the closing down of Soft Tech the new business suffered greatly.
"I'm constantly thinking about the state of the business but I'm committed to find ways to keep the staff employed. The staff has shown commitment and cooperation and have made sacrifices just to see the business pull through," he said.
He stated he initially employed two members of staff who worked with Soft Tech and then took on two more.