Did Bezeq Pay Rachlevsky for Working During His Cooling-off Period?

Did Yuval Rachlevsky, the former wages director at the Finance Ministry, receive a NIS 200,000 bonus for work when he was still in his cooling-off period after leaving the treasury?

This is one of the suspicions arising from the report of the external investigator, CPA Yoram Danziger, who investigated the accounting and management failures at Bezeq.

Danziger's report states that Rachlevsky, who was appointed vice president of human resources at Bezeq, received the NIS 200,000 bonus in September. This was a one-time grant paid in addition to his monthly salary.

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

However, Rachlevsky was in a nine-month cooling-off period before starting his new job at Bezeq. According to the law, former civil servants are not allowed to receive a salary during such a period. It seems from Danziger's statements that Rachlevsky received the grant for the time he spent learning his new job - while he was still under the restrictions of the waiting period.

In response to TheMarker's questions, Bezeq spokesman Yotam Takir said: "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 completely, 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. Rachlevsky said that one of the explanations Gelbard gave in 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 percent 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.