Etisalat defends Dh37m bonuses

State Audit Institition says there are 'discrepancies' in bonuses and salaries paid to telco's chairman and board.

Etisalat is currently having a "constructive dialogue" with the State Audit Institution (SAI).

The federal agency recently reported etisalat chairman and board members had paid themselves a total of Dh37.5 million in bonuses in 2009, and noted a string of discrepancies in bonuses and salaries at the firm.

The dialogue involves harmonising the different accounting and financial standards used by the agency and the country's largest telecom operator.

Etisalat argues that bonuses are "not wrong" because they were approved by the UAE Government, which is the 60 per cent owner, and that the reward mechanism has been sanctioned by the company's laws for the past 18 years.

"They have the right to say whatever they want. We cannot ask them not to write it, but we have our own view that we have the right to voice," Mohammad Hassan Omran, etisalat Chairman, told Emirates Business. "Definitely we are working with them in order to develop the way reporting and auditing should be done."

Khalid Hamid, Acting Director at SAI, said there is no uniform accounting framework, and added that the agency has no prescription power to mandate for one.

"There will always be difference in opinions until we unify these standards," said Isam Akrat, etisalat Group General Counsel and Group Corporate Secretary. "The state audit thought this amount [bonus] ought to have gone to the AGM. We've never done this as per the etisalat articles of association and law." He said etisalat encountered no issues with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young, its two other external auditors.

 

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