Former MTR Corporation chief executive Jay Walder pocketed a HK$15.7 million golden handshake when he abruptly quit last year after being censured over a two-year delay and cost overruns in the construction of a cross-border express link, the rail giant's annual report shows. Walder left the MTR in August, a year before the end of his contract, after an internal report accused him of failing to be more critical in monitoring the progress of the multibillion-dollar high-speed link to Guangzhou. At the time, the MTR called Walder's departure a "mutual" decision that would be "beneficial" to the company and said it had nothing to do with the report. The company, majority owned by the government, had refused to disclose his exit package. But according to MTR's annual report, released yesterday, Walder received a "contractual settlement" of HK$15.7 million, of which HK$725,428 was the value in cash of more than 24,000 MTR shares. Walder, who previously led transport authorities in New York and London, also received a basic salary of HK$5.8 million up to August 15. The corporation's shares closed at HK$38.80 yesterday, up 0.8 per cent from Tuesday. Lawmakers questioned whether the "monstrous" sum was intended to stop Walder revealing anything damaging when faced with inquiries set up by the government, the Legislative Council and the MTR. Gary Fan Kwok-wai, of the NeoDemocrats, expressed "regret, anger and shock" over the payout, which he described as a "massive sum of money". Wu Chi-wai, of the Democratic Party, also found the financial settlement "problematic" as Walder could "evade" public scrutiny of the MTR's responsibility in the project's woes. Wu said the government should investigate whether it was in the public's interest to pay that amount, and urged MTR chairman Raymond Chien Kuo-fung to explain the reasons to Legco. News that the link - now budgeted at HK$71.5 billion - would not open until 2017 broke in April last year. The MTR blamed tough ground conditions at the West Kowloon terminus and the breakdown of a tunnel-boring machine for the delay. An internal report later criticised former projects director Chew Tai-chong for "poor judgment" in not telling other executives or the board of a possible delay. Chew, who retired in October, was given a performance-related remuneration of HK$400,000 when he left, the annual report showed. That was on top of a HK$4.9 million salary and HK$600,000 in contributions to the Mandatory Provident Fund. Other railway projects have also faced delays and cost overruns amid a massive expansion of the network.