Evidence of alleged misuse of HRDF funds submitted to MACC

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on June 13, 2018.
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KUALA LUMPUR: Evidence of an alleged misappropriation of approximately RM300 million belonging to the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) has been submitted to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

The evidence was submitted yesterday to the MACC by Datuk Seri Ganes, chief executive officer (CEO) of skills training centre SG Education Group.

“A few other witnesses and I have submitted some important documents that are proof of misappropriation of RM300 million in HRDF funds,” he told reporters at a news conference yesterday.

At a HRDF town hall last week, Ganes brought up the matter of a training provider who also sits on the board of HRDF. He said that this created a conflict of interest as the board member is in a position to channel HRDF contracts to his own company.

Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran and HRDF CEO Datuk CM Vignaesvaran Jeyandran were present at the town hall.

“The HRDF CEO replied during the town hall that the board member’s appointment had been approved by the former human resources minister, under the board member’s capacity as the leader of an association [and not as a training provider].

“But does the CEO not see that the appointment of the service provider to the board opens the opportunity for misappropriation, given that a significant number of contracts had been awarded to the service provider?” asked Ganes.

Kulasegaran replied during the town hall that if any of the HRDF board members were confirmed to be service providers, then they would be asked to resign.

Reports had emerged that three board members of the HRDF who were involved in training projects resigned yesterday. The reports quoted Kulasegaran as saying the human resources ministry is looking to accept those resignations.

Ganes claimed that he had received information that Vignaesvaran had resigned. Vignaesvaran could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Meanwhile, the press conference held by Ganes yesterday took a turn when human capital development solutions provider K-Pintar Sdn Bhd CEO RA Thiagaraja appeared, and claimed to be the HRDF board member that Ganes was referring to.

“The person he is referring to as a training provider is me. I am sitting on the HRDF board in the capacity of the president of Federation of Malaysian Training Providers & TVET Associations.”

Thiagaraja claimed that other associations such as the SME Association of Malaysia and Malaysian Employers Federation have board representations on the HRDF.

“All these associations do have registered training entities [that] are HRDF-registered training providers. For the Federation of Malaysian Training Providers, we have not received any allocation under HRDF. At the same time, HRDF funds are contributed by employers as a levy, it is not the rakyat’s money, it is not the taxpayers’ money, therefore the levy money can only be utilised by HRDF levy contributing companies,” he said.

Thiagaraja said the allegations made by Ganes are “unfounded”.

“A lot of allegations were posted by him and others on social media directly implicating me. Let the authorities investigate and do whatever is necessary, let them prove it, I have tendered my resignation [as a HRDF board member] to the minister, it is up to him if he accepts my resignation,” he said.