Chris Dargis advised firm supplying gadgets made with forced Uyghur labor

Raja Krishnamoorthi’s Republican rival for Congress owns $50,000-$100,000 of stock in PAR, says his financial disclosure report

Chris Dargis, Republican candidate for Congress in Illinois, was a key advisor to PAR Technology, a New York-based “global provider of restaurant software” which has sourced products from a factory using alleged Uyghur forced labor.

Dargis is taking on Raja Krishnamoorthi, three-term sitting Indian American Democrat in Illinois’s 8th congressional district, in the Nov. 8 midterm election.

Read: Raja Krishnamoorthi wins Democratic primary for US House (June 29, 2022)

First elected in 2016, Indian-born Krishnamoorthi serves on the House Oversight Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He is also chair of the Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, and serves as an assistant whip.

Dargis was paid a $300,000 advisory fee in 2021 by Punchh, a company providing digital loyalty platforms for service industry clients, that was acquired by PAR for $500 million that year, according to media reports.

He also owns $50,000-$100,000 of stock in PAR, making it his largest single stock holding, according to his financial disclosure report filed with the clerk of the House of Representatives.

PAR Technology was a customer of OFILM, a company which produced technology products within Nanchang, allegedly owning a factory which used Uyghur forced labor, Associated Press reported in March 2020.

Uyghurs, according to the report, were monitored with security cameras and guards and were only allowed outside during chaperoned trips. OFILM allegedly ran a “school-enterprise cooperative,” and described the programs that the workers were involved in as “internships.”

OFILM had first hired Uyghur labor as of 2017, hiring them to one- or two-year contracts. OFILM told AP that it “answered the government’s call” by moving to Xinjiang and providing training for workers.

Read: Amid House probe, Dan Snyder targets Carolyn Maloney, Raja Krishnamoorthi (June 2, 2022)

OFILM shipped 48 cartons of touch screens to PAR Technology in February 2020, AP reported citing US customs data obtained through ImportGenius and Panjiva, which track shipping data.

PAR Technology told AP it supplies terminals to major chains such as McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Subway. However, AP said it was unable to confirm that products from OFILM end up with the fast-food companies.

McDonald’s told AP it has asked PAR Technology to discontinue purchases from OFILM while it launches an immediate investigation. PAR Technology also said it would investigate immediately. Subway and Taco Bell did not respond, AP said.

On its investor page, PAR also lists “Manufacturing capabilities in US and China” as one of its highlights.

In November 2018, Pizza Hut Europe partnered with Punchh to help run Pizza Hut Europe’s new Hut Rewards Digital Loyalty Program, just four months after Dargis left the fast food chain as VP of Ecommerce.

Earlier, in February 2016, Punchh was sued by LevelUp, a competing business in the design and market app for restaurant business, according to media reports.

LevelUp claimed Punchh had made defamatory statements about LevelUp to its customers. However, the court dismissed the complaint in October 2018 on the basis that it did not have jurisdiction over Punchh as it was an out-of-state defendant.

Read: Raja Krishnamoorthi pushes for immigration reform to keep America ahead (April 25, 2022)

In March 2019 PAR was sued by Kandice Neals, who worked at a restaurant that used a PAR cloud-based point-of-sale system that tracked employees’ time using a biometric finger scanner, for violating privacy laws concerning biometric data from finger scans.

Neals’ class action lawsuit alleged that PAR collected and stored her fingerprint without complying with the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (which required that she be informed about collection and retention policies). As of December 31, 2021, the company’s accrued liability for this case was $790,000.

In April 2021, Michael Bartusek, PAR Technology CFO, pled guilty to stealing $776,000 from company to invest in in a scheme to buy and sell African diamonds, Syracuse Post-Standard reported.

Bartusek admitted to wire fraud, money laundering and filing a false tax return. Bartusek planned to return the money once he profited, but instead lost the money. Bartusek then solicited investments for Integra Diamonds with false representations, the report said.

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