George Calombaris, Australia’s hot-topic restaurateur at the moment, has opened up about the scandal he’s locked up in, one that saw him owing almost $8 million in unpaid wages. Calombaris spoke to ABC’s 7:30, where he described the tumultuous times he has been through personally, and the extent of the emotional damage of the whole ordeal. He said that the years of underpayment could be attributed to a focus on “being creative” and the opening of restaurants without proper wage processing methods. “Creativity’s flying, the ideas are flying, the dream is there, but the sophistication in the back end wasn’t there,” he said.

For the unpaid fines, Calombaris was fined $200,000. “I want to apologise to all my team, past and present, for the effect I have had on them. That we have had on them. I apologise.”

“There is no excuse, but, you know, I truly believe we owned up, we paid up.” Following the scandal, Calombaris has announced that he does not intend on shutting his restaurants, and is encouraging people to continue to visit them. He said, “Just know that when you come into one of our restaurants, that when you pay the bill, that my people are getting paid, and paid correctly.”