Today's ST report:
Director got $150,000 in exit payments when she quit
MS MATILDA Chua, 36, rose up the NKF ranks - from an executive in public relations in May 1991 to senior associate director when she quit in July 2000.
In that time, her monthly salary rose from $1,300 to $12,500.
Over nine years, she received salary increments of between $50 and $2,500, some of which were granted just a month or two after the previous raise.
Not only that, she received generous bonuses. In 1998, her bonus was equivalent to 14 months' pay.
In February 2000, her salary was raised from $9,000 to $10,000. Two months later, she expressed her intention to resign.
Despite that, in June 2000, her pay was increased again to $12,500 and backdated to April.
This second raise was not documented in her personal file, suggesting that the executive committee had not made the decision, independent auditor KPMG noted in its report.
KPMG added: 'We found it unusual for the NKF to award a salary increment, much less a salary increment that was backdated, to an employee after that employee has indicated an intention to leave the company.'
When Ms Chua left, she was also given a six-month bonus of $75,000 and an ex-gratia payment of another $75,000. She also received an encashment of unused leave that came to $79,195.
The auditors said they were unable to determine how her unused leave had come to 151 days.
Mr Durai said in an annual general meeting that Ms Chua would be 'awarded a bonus before her departure as a reward for her unstinting determination and innovation', but it is not known who decided the amounts and approved her exit payments.
Ms Chua wrote to the auditors to explain that the salary increment she received was for her delaying her departure to oversee the NKF's annual charity show in June 2000. The six-month bonus was an annual reward she got since 1994 for overseeing the charity shows, while the ex-gratia payment was a long-service bonus.
After she quit, she continued 'her role in an honorary capacity', taking care of all fund-raising departments and having regular meetings with staff.
She actively facilitated the NKF's implementation of the enterprise resource management software, contracted to Forte Systems in 2001.
She was appointed as a director of the board on Aug 16, 2002, and also made an executive committee member.
When less is more
T.T. Durai had appeared altruistic, requesting lower bonuses and pay rises. But in fact, the former NKF chief actually ended up making even more money. Here is how it was done
Jan 2, 1995: Mr Richard Yong writes to Mr Durai to tell him he will get an eight-month bonus amounting to $96,000 ($12,000 x 8 months):
'My colleagues and I would like to commend you for another remarkable year for the NKF,' he gushed. 'In fact, 1994 was a record year for the NKF. You have been able to raise about $22 million, with a surplus of $10 million. NKF's reserves now amount to nearly $38 million. We cannot commend you enough. We cannot compensate you enough. My colleagues and I want you to know how much we appreciate your painstaking work and sacrifice. As a token of our appreciation, we would like you to accept a bonus of eight months' salary.'
Jan 3, 1995: Mr Durai declines the offer, requesting a five-month bonus instead:
'I would not be doing justice to the hundreds of patients whom I have to cajole to pay their fees... I know this will be painful to my wife who has to contend with the little resources I can provide her and the children. However, I believe that someone has to make the sacrifice...'
January 1995: Mr Durai is awarded $60,000 ($12,000 x 5 months), $36,000 less than Mr Yong offered.
March 24, 1995: The executive committee proposes raising Mr Durai's salary from $12,000 to $30,000. He declines and accepts only $18,000, according to executive committee meeting minutes. The committee agrees but 'as a compromise... a retroactive adjustment of his salary and bonus based on $18,000 from Sept 1, 1994.'
In March 1995, Mr Durai receives:
Payout of backdated salary increment amounting to $36,000 ($6,000 x 6 months)
Bonus top-up of $30,000 in addition to the $60,000 he had already received in January, making his total bonus $90,000 So, even though Mr Durai asked to receive $36,000 less in bonus in January 1995, he was eventually paid $30,000 more than he would have received had he accepted the original eight-month bonus offer from Mr Yong on his $12,000 salary.