NEWS

HR Unaware Of Pay: Ex-Boss

A former Post Fiji Limited Human Resources manager said yesterday they were not involved in the gratuity payment to the former managing director. Susana Naiwasetawa made the statement while giving
07 Nov 2014 12:18
HR Unaware Of Pay: Ex-Boss
Left is Peni Mau, Former Post Fiji boss.

A former Post Fiji Limited Human Resources manager said yesterday they were not involved in the gratuity payment to the former managing director.

Susana Naiwasetawa made the statement while giving evidence yesterday in the High Court in Suva in Day 4 of a case between the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption (FICAC) and Mahendra Motibhai Patel (former chairman), Tevita Peni Mau (former managing director) and Dhirendra Pratap (former General Manager Finance). Ms Naiwasetawa is one of the prosecution witnesses. Patel, who is being tried in absentia, is charged with a count of abuse of office. He allegedly allowed a payment of $24,000 to Mau in 2007. Mau is charged with a count of extortion where he is alleged to have demanded money from the board.

Pratap faces a count of abuse of office for allegedly facilitating the payout to Mau. The three accused have denied the charges.

During chief examination by FICAC lawyer Rashmi Aslam, Ms Naiwasetawa said when Mau’s contract was renewed by Patel in 2006, it overlapped with his early contract which was to expire in June 30 2007 but Mau took an early exit from the company in February 2007.

Mr Aslam queried the procedure of the contract renewal. Ms Naiwasetawa said the usual practice was that the board would come to a resolution, minutes would be drawn and sent to HR department where a contract was supposed to be made and then given out for signing.

However, she said in Mau’s case, only an offer letter of renewal was signed by Patel, Mau and witnessed by another.

She agreed that normal procedure for renewal was through another contract and that she had never come across any renewal by letter. Ms Naiwasetawa was shown a board minutes dated March 8 2007 which read that the chairman advised others during the board meeting of Mau’s ‘resignation.’

Ms Naiwasetawa was then asked to read the termination clause of Mau’s contract which said that anyone ‘resigning’ was not entitled to any payment.

Mr Aslam asked whether there was any clause under entitlement schedule of Mau’s contract entitling him of gratuity. She said no.

Ms Naiwasetawa said the board would decide in a board meeting where a resolution would be made and sent to HR department to check the calculation of payment and fill the payment voucher before sending it to the Finance department. She said in this case, the HR department did not come across any minutes about payment to Mau but the voucher was processed by a Wiki Fullman, checked and certified by Pratap.

Mr Aslam showed Ms Naiwasetawa the payment voucher where the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) contribution of 17 per cent was made directly to Mau.

Mr Aslam queried whether it was correct. Ms Naiwasetawa said FNPF contributions were supposed to be paid directly to FNPF and not to Mau.

Ms Naiwasetawa was then shown the Corporate Governance Manual (CGM) which she helped to compile during her service at Post Fiji Ltd. She was queried by Mr Aslam whether there was any mention of gratuity payment. She said no.

Ms Naiwasetawa agreed with Mr Aslam that Mau worked beyond his retirement age.

She was queried by Mr Aslam, on the retirement benefits under the CGM. Ms Naiwasetawa explained that retirement benefit was not paid to those who continued employment after 55 and those under contracts also did not qualify.

She agreed that in Mau’s case, since he was a contracted officer, he did not qualify for any retirement benefits.

Patel’s lawyer Hemendra Nagin queried during cross examination whether Ms Naiwasetawa had access to Mau’s contract. She said she did as it was kept in their department under personal files and they had to go through it if it was needed.

She was asked by Mr Nagin whether she was aware that the board gave power to the chairman and general manager finance to deal with Mau’s payment for his early departure. Ms Naiwasetawa said she was not aware of it.

Mr Nagin put it to her that the payment for Mau was dealt with by Patel and Pratap. She said anything to do with the remuneration package was to come to HR department to fill payment voucher and make calculations of the payment.

Mau’s lawyer Barbara Malimali, during her cross examination, asked her what gratuity payment meant. Ms Naiwasetawa said it was something paid to someone to thank them for their service.

Ms Naiwasetawa agreed that since gratuity payment was outside of remuneration package, it did not come to HR.

 

FACTS

– Accused: Mahendra Motibhai Patel (abuse of office), Tevita Peni Mau (extortion), Dhirendra Pratap (abuse of office).

– Presiding Judge: Justice Prabaharan Kumararatnam

– FICAC lawyer: Rashmi Aslam

– Patel’s lawyer: Hemendra Nagin

– Mau’s lawyer: Barbara Malimali

– Pratap: Representing himself

 

 

Feedback:  farisha.ahmed@fijisun.com.fj

 

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