When it opened more than six year ago, Chicago’s Embeya received rave reviews for its Vietnamese cuisine. When the West Loop eatery suddenly shuttered in 2016, foodies were left wondering what had happened to one of the city’s many culinary bright spots.
One of Embeya’s former owners was recently arrested in Valencia, Spain, where the 46-year-old had been vacationing. Attila Gyulai is accused of federal wire fraud, according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times.
An arrest warrant filed early last year for Gyulai stated that he had illegally deprived fellow investors of $300,000, the newspaper stated. Law enforcement officials apparently believe Gyulai’s alleged misdeeds also include paying himself and his wife $140,000 in shareholder disbursements that they were not qualified to receive.
He’s also believed to have transferred about $65,000 from the restaurant’s bank accounts to an account he controlled, as well as a separate improper transfer of $15,000 into a personal account.
Officials also reportedly believe the restauranteur transferred $103,750 from Embeya to himself just before the establishment closed without explanation in September of 2016.
The restaurant’s former executive chef – responsible for many of the accolades heaped on the eatery when it opened – has filed a lawsuit requesting $90,000 in back pay.
According to a Chicago Eater article from February 2018, the former chef’s wife, who worked as beverage director at Embeya, uncovered evidence that her husband (a part-owner) had been denied proper compensation from the restaurant’s gross revenues of about $3 million.
Those charged with wire fraud and related white collar crimes should decline to speak with investigators until they have discussed the evidence and allegations with an experienced criminal defense attorney.