Only $30,000 was found in the safe at the Maria's Bakery To Kwa Wan headquarters, the chain's provisional liquidator said yesterday. Ernst & Young said the crumbling empire's cash assets left it 'definitely unable to pay the outstanding salaries in April alone', estimated at $3 million. 'There was only about $30,000 in the safe but, if cash generated on the last day of business from its 23 shops was collected, the total amount of cash assets should be over $100,000,' said liquidation department principal Stephen Liu Yiu-keung. All bank accounts were frozen and their balance was being calculated. Mr Liu refused to disclose the extent of Maria's indebtedness, but employees said it exceeded $100 million. He called on interested parties to contact Ernst & Young as soon as possible. About 10 groups had contacted Maria's management before liquidation. 'We have imposed no special conditions on potential buyers. We only hope the buyer will take care of the employees,' Mr Liu said. 'We also hope the group can be sold at a good price to protect all creditors' interests.' Coupon holders would be treated as ordinary creditors if no buyer came forward, and it was unlikely anyone knew how many coupons were still outstanding, he said. The Consumer Council yesterday received more than 114 complaints from Maria's coupons holders, involving 5,705 cards. The average value was $44 for a dozen cakes. One person held 300 coupons. Company directors Maria Lee Tsang Chiu-kwan, 70, and Fung Lau Shun-kwan are due to face a press conference, with the liquidator, tonight. Mrs Lee, founder of the chain of shops, remained in seclusion yesterday but is understood to be at her Kadoorie Avenue home. Other assets were being valued, but Federation of Trade Unions vice-chairman Leung Fu-wah - who took part in a meeting between Ernst & Young, the Labour Department and employees representatives - said the company had no property and rented all its shops and headquarters. 'We see nothing valuable remaining in the company. We can't do anything but accept reality,' Mr Leung said. The Labour Department said the 400 employees could expect to receive their unpaid salaries and severance payment from its insolvency fund in six weeks. By 5 pm yesterday, 188 staff had registered with the department's offices in San Po Kong, Tsuen Wan and Western District. Employees' representative Lau Chi-kin said the company had failed to pay its suppliers for nine months. 'If one supplier refused to supply materials, we just shifted to another one,' he said. More than half of the 400 workers had been with the company for 10 years or more, he added. The release of salaries and other allowances had also been delayed since Lunar New Year. Personnel and accounting department staff were calculating the unpaid salaries and other payments. A full report is expected to be handed to the Labour Department and the liquidator early next week. Other bakeries said the industry was still strong and prospering despite the economic malaise.