Costly medical insurance for the former executive director of the Tourism Board and her family - which the Audit Commission criticised in a report last month - is understood to have been approved despite staff concerns. The request for the insurance was not stated clearly in Clara Chong Ming-wah's employment contract, according to sources, who said it was filed and handled largely via e-mail. Only verbal approval had been secured from then chairwoman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, the South China Morning Post has learned. The revelation in the audit report that Mrs Chow had approved a medical insurance policy in 2004 for Ms Chong and her family costing taxpayers HK$177,000 over two years, without proper approval from the financial secretary, proved controversial. Sources say that in the same year, a senior member of Ms Chong's staff put a request for an executive medical plan to Mrs Chow in an e-mail that described the scheme as being similar to one the executive director had previously enjoyed. Mrs Chow - who has since said she felt she had been misled - then verbally approved it, the sources said. When asked to take out the insurance policy, a member of staff of the board's human resources department questioned the request because the annual premium was HK$85,000 and it was not stated clearly in the employment contract, the sources say. But the senior staff member who handled the request asked the department to go ahead, saying Mrs Chow had approved it. Ms Chong's reappointment to a three-year term was approved by the financial secretary in March 2004 on the Tourism Commission's advice. Her contract had a clause stating her salary would be reviewed every year. The audit commissioner found that Commissioner for Tourism Au King-chi was unaware of this clause until last year, when she was asked to consider a salary adjustment for Ms Chong, and that the commission had not received a copy before recommending her reappointment. Sources told the Post that at no stage of contract negotiations had the medical insurance been discussed. The audit report will be discussed by the Legislative Council public accounts committee today. The employment contract states the executive director was entitled to medical and dental benefits as set out in the board's employees' handbook. The audit report said the board 'should have incorporated the executive medical plan into the employment contract for the financial secretary's approval'. Mrs Chow said there was room for improvement in the body's management, but denied wrongdoing. 'The message I received from the executives of the Tourism Board ... was that it was in line with [Ms Chong's] remuneration package as in her contract. I feel that I was misled.' Ms Chong quit in April after six years. Mrs Chow stepped down in March after guidelines were issued that advisory board members should not serve more than six years.