Staff at a South Tyneside call centre have been left unpaid after their boss disappeared, prompting fears for his safety.
A Northumbria Police spokeswoman confirmed officers were appealing for help to find 25-year-old Kieran Lowe, from Hall Farm in Sunderland, who is managing director of Jarrow-based energy provider comparison service U Compare.
Staff at the firm’s offices in St Bede’s Chamber have been left unpaid after Mr Lowe’s disappearance.
Mr Lowe is the only person with authorisation to release payments from the firm’s bank account
Employee Carly Rutter told the Gazette staff had initially expected to be paid on Friday but had not been unduly concerned when Mr Lowe left the office at 1.30pm.
“Our contracts state that if the 10th falls on a weekend, we will be paid on the following working day but Kieran has always paid us on the Friday. We thought we would be paid on Monday.
We have been told there’s money there - the wages are in the bank account, but nobody knows where Kieran is. We are all just waiting around.Carly Rutter
“Now the staff have been told we are not getting paid. We are not getting our money.”
She added: “There is nothing we can do without him. He is the one with access to the bank details.
“No-one knows where he is. He has been reported as a missing person. There are a lot of staff who don’t know what’s happening.
“We have got no news from anybody. People have got rent to pay, they are going to lose their homes.
“People have got kids to feed and bills to pay.
“We have been told there’s money there - the wages are in the bank account, but nobody knows where Kieran is. We are all just waiting around.
“The money is there, but he is the only person who can access the account.”
A Northumbria Police spokeswoman confirmed Mr Lowe has been reported as a missing person.
She said: “Concern was raised for Kieran Lowe, who is 25, and from Sunderland.”
“Enquiries are being carried out to locate him. Kieran, or anyone with information about his whereabouts, should ring Northumbria Police on 101, quoting reference 636 140916.”
Mr Lowe set up U Compare in October 2014 with friend and fellow director Anthony Heaton. Mr Heaton resigned from his position as director earlier this year.
Speaking in January last year, Mr Lowe said: “It has been hard work and has taken a lot of planning to get to where we are now, but it’s all been worth it.
“It has been hard in that we have to deal with payroll, job adverts and making sure the right people were recruited and that we were creating an atmosphere where people were happy to come to work.
“Hopefully the business will go on to bigger and better things and we will be able to double our workforce.”