Report: Ex-minister Richard Riot bypassed benefits panel in rewarding senior HRDF staff

Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem allegedly bypassed HRDF’s establishment and benefits committee to reward several executives with high pay hikes and bonuses. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli
Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem allegedly bypassed HRDF’s establishment and benefits committee to reward several executives with high pay hikes and bonuses. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli

KUALA LUMPUR, April 9 — Ongoing corruption investigations into the scandal-riddled Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) have so far showed a top executive and three of the latter’s deputies there being lavishly rewarded with high pay hikes and bonuses before GE14 last year.

The 2017 performance bonuses for the four were signed on February 28, 2018 by then-human resources minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem, bypassing HRDF’s establishment and benefits committee (EBC), which usually determines remunerations and bonuses, The Star reported today, citing from documents it sighted.

The national daily added that neither the EBC nor HRDF’s board of directors’ were informed about the matter, even though the HRDF Act only empowers the minister to give directives to the board and not bypass the board to give approvals.

However, the HRDF had reportedly informed Riot on February 27 in an undisclosed year that its board of directors had approved a restructuring in the organisation, granting more competitive salaries and new grades of service.

According to The Star, the executive’s 2017 individual bonus of RM616,000 was reportedly equivalent to a growth of 3,524 per cent in three years.

The executive received a RM191,000 bonus in 2016, RM60,000 in 2015, and RM17,000 in 2014.

Also, the executive’s salary was revised twice in 2017, from RM32,000 monthly to RM47,000 a month in March, followed by an increment to RM56,000 monthly after four months.

Besides receiving a RM211,000 individual bonus each, the three deputies were also entitled to corporate bonuses.

For 2017, regular HRDF employees were eligible to receive 1.75 months of corporate bonus and up to four months of individual bonus.

According to the news report, two of the deputies are still working with HRDF while the highly paid executive and the third deputy have since left though it was unclear if they resigned or were sacked.

Last November, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said high-ranking HRDF staff misappropriated around RM100 million of the RM300 million in the fund.

Investigations at the main HRDF office in Damansara Heights began in early January this year by the police following allegations of training fund misappropriation, fraud and other malpractices.

Following that, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission started its own investigations and has conducted raids on the HRDF main office in Damansara Heights, an office in Cyberjaya and a warehouse in Semenyih, among several places across the Klang Valley.

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