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 Company sacks bankrupt after he accepts share options

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Max
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PostSubject: Company sacks bankrupt after he accepts share options   Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:41 am

Company sacks bankrupt after he accepts share options

He did not tell his bosses of his status although it was required

By Desmond Ng and Pearly Tan
February 25, 2009


HE didn't declare to his employer that he was a bankrupt.


IN THE SOUP: Mr Murali became a bankrupt after a friend defaulted on a loan application that he was guarantor for. BH FILE PICTURE

He thought it wouldn't matter. But it cost him his job - and his share options.

Store officer Murali B, 32, had been working for Singapore Airlines (SIA) for about 10 years. It was his first job after his national service.

But all those years of service went down the drain when he became a bankrupt in 2005.

He had been a guarantor for a friend's loan application and was declared bankrupt when his friend was unable to repay the loan.

When that happened, he didn't declare it to SIA, as required by the company.

Mr Murali said: 'I didn't declare my bankruptcy to the company because I didn't think it was necessary.

'I thought that the Official Assignee (OA) would automatically inform my employer.'

But the OA informs the employer only if the bankrupt works for a Ministry or Statutory Board.

If the employer is a private company, it is up to the employee to declare his status.

Mr Murali was offered share options under the company's Employee Share Option Plan (Esop) in 2007 and 2008.

On both occasions, he had to sign acceptance forms declaring, among other things, that he was not an undischarged bankrupt.

He said he just signed the forms and never thought about declaring his bankruptcy status.

He was offered two lots of 760 shares each, but he wasn't able to exercise the options when the company discovered that he is a bankrupt.

An unhappy colleague, who had declared his own bankruptcy to the company, complained to SIA'S human resource department about the discrepancy.

Colleague's complaint
In the letter, a copy of which was seen by The New Paper, the colleague asked: 'I was never given the Esop shares because as a bankrupt, I have informed the company and was not given the Esop.

'But the company has not been fair to me because I know that there are staff who are bankrupts but still are issued with the Esop.

'Is the company being fair that some can get and some cannot get the shares?'

He signed off as 'unlucky bankrupt'.

Mr Murali was called for an interview with the management last November and sent for a disciplinary inquiry last month. (See report on next page.)

He was sacked earlier this month for making false declarations of his bankruptcy status when he accepted both lots of shares.

Another reason was his failure to inform the company of his bankruptcy status in 2005.

'I was shocked when I was told that I would be terminated. I didn't gain anything from the stock options because I would've had to keep the share options for two years, which I didn't,' he said.

He has appealed to the management through his union to keep his job. His colleagues have also sent an appeal letter - with about 100 signatures - to the management.

'I hope the management will give me a favourable answer. If not, I will have to find a job. But in this recession period, I don't know if I can find a job,' he added.

Mr Murali lives in a four-room HDB flat with his parents.

When contacted, SIA said the staff member had breached the company's strict procedures that do not allow an undischarged bankrupt to accept or receive share options under the company's Esop.

SIA spokesman Stephen Forshaw said: 'In addition, the employee had not notified the company that he was an undischarged bankrupt, which is a breach of his conditions of employment.'

They declined to comment further because of Mr Murali's appeal.

Source: http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg/news/story/0,4136,193859,00.html?
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