Bezeq Gave Rachlevsky NIS 200,000 Bonus. For Working When, Exactly?

He had to wait 9 months after leaving the treasury, but spent time learning his new job at Bezeq

Yuval Rachlevsky received NIS 200,000 as a bonus from his new employer, Bezeq (TASE: BZEQ). The phone company explained to Yoram Danziger, the external examiner appointed to vet its accounting and approval practices, that Rachlevsky received the money as a one-time bonus in exchange for his long hours spent learning about his new job, namely - human resources VP at the national phone company.

The thing is, Rachlevsky apparently spent those long hours learning about the company during his mandatory nine-month cooling-off period after leaving his high-ranking position in the public service - wages director at the treasury. Under the law, ex-civil servants may not receive salaries during their cooling-off period.

Danziger raises the suspicion that Bezeq, essentially, paid Rachlevsky  for working during his cooling-off period.

Rachlevsky received the bonus in September 2006, on top of his salary for that month.

"As to the exceptional payment to Rachlevsky, I was told that it was a one-time reward for the many hours he dedicated to learning the company's affairs before starting his position as human resources vice president," Danziger wrote.

Bezeq spokesman Yotam Takir explains: "Yuval Rachlevsky was not paid a salary during his cooling-off period, and the decision on the cooling-off period was honored completely and exactly.

"Rachlevsky's bonus for 2006 was mostly a result of the great esteem for his singular achievement of reaching a work agreement with the Bezeq union for an organizational change in the company - negotiations that Rachlevsky led with others until they were successfully completed."

The spokesman did not say how his answer can be reconciled with what the special investigator wrote in his report, which came directly from Bezeq.

The spokesman also did not answer whether his response denies what was written in the report.

Rachlevsky told TheMarker that he honored the cooling-off period, from June 2005 to April 2006. He said he received no salary for this period.

According to Rachlevsky, the bonus was paid after he had been working at Bezeq for six months, and was the decision of ex-CEO Jacob Gelbard, who resigned this week after being blamed for bad practices at the company regarding remuneration of top executives.

Rachlevsky said that one of the explanations Gelbard provided when approving the bonus was - among other things - the time he devoted to learning about Bezeq before taking up his position. He said his bonus will be brought again for board approval - just like other senior executives - and if it is not approved he will return the money.

In addition, Rachlevsky received an annual bonus for 2006 of NIS 600,000, which was paid in January 2007, in addition to the NIS 200,000 special bonus.

Danziger found that the annual bonus was 33% higher than the maximum Rachlevsky was to receive for 2006. Considering he started work only in April, he actually received NIS 262,000 more than his contract allowed for.