Electricity Commission meets to address allegations; funds were audited, NRFB boss says

The members of the Electricity Commission trust board will meet tomorrow (Thursday, October 12) to discuss allegations regarding the electricity employees’ pension fund.

The CEO of the National Retirement Benefits Fund (NRBF) Dr.Leimoni Taufu’i said the meeting would also look at the employment contract of the chair of the Commission Lord Dalgety of Scotland Tonga.

In addition, it would discuss what the law said about the number of board members, Dr Taufu’i said.

He said the meeting was called on his advice after an Electricity Commission board member Paula Tupou alleged money was missing from the Commission’s pension fund scheme for the period between 2012 – 2016.

Dr. Taufu’i said the Commission had submitted audited reports to the NRBF for these financial years, although NRBF was not in a position to review it.

Tupou has questioned Lord Dalgety’s employment contract, which has a clause allowing him to stay on his post until he dies with some exceptions.

He told Kaniva News other people in similar positions with the Commission did not have employment contracts.

“They are appointed by the Finance Minister and approved by the Cabinet,” Tupou said.

“Commissioners may be dismissed by the Finance Minister for misconduct, neglect of duty, bankruptcy etc.

“We are paid a salary of $624 a month after tax. The chairman gets about $724 a month. We are paid a meeting fee of $100 per meeting after tax.”

Tomorrow’s meeting is expected to be attended by staff from Tax Office and an independent lawyer, as well as Dr. Taufu’i.

“I recommended to the Electricity Commission to call a board meeting and invite to it staff from the Tax Office to look at the issues with tax being raised, allegation about pension funds and a lawyer to look at Dalgety’s  employment contract”, Dr Taufu’i said in Tongan.

“In this way the allegations can be resolved and if they prove to be true Paula Tupou is free to take those responsible to court.”

Dr. Taufu’i said the law allowed the board trustees  to order an independent re-audit of the funds if they were not satisfied with any audited reports.

Dr. Taufu’i said he had written to Tupou and the commission about the NRFB laws and policy.

Electricity Commission fund

The Electricity Commission retirement fund scheme was one of 15 retirement fund organisations authorised by the NRBF in 2012 to operate their employees’ retirement funds by themselves before reporting them to NRBF.

These schemes were known as “complying schemes” which must furnish audited accounts every year, Dr. Taufu’i said.

“They have their own policy for operating their funds and have their own auditors.

“Their audited reports must be submitted to their own board.

“The law does not stipulate that NRBF has to scrutinise these audited reports but we have access to them.

“We know how much retirement funds paid out in the current year and any amendments to the Trust Deeds.”

In 2012 it was decided that all retirement commission boards must have equal representation from employers and workers, with two employer representatives and two employee representatives.

Dr. Taufu’i said NRBF was provided with the number of members at the Electricity Commission, but not their names.

In December 2014 an amendment was made to the law to remove the equal representation policy allowing well educated and experienced people in the community to be elected to join the boards.

The main points

  • The members of the Electricity Commission trust board will meet tomorrow (Thursday, October 12) to discuss allegations regarding the electricity employees’ pension fund.
  • The CEO of the National Retirement Benefits Fund (NRBF) Dr.Leimoni Taufu’i said the meeting would also look at the employment contract of the chair of the Commission Lord Dalgety.
  • In addition, it would discuss what the law said about the number of board members, Dr Taufu’i said.
  • He said the meeting was called on his advice after allegations that money was missing from the Commission’s pension fund schemes for the period between 2012 – 2016.

For more information 

Leaked e-mails point to major row with Lord Dalgety over missing fund allegations

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