Opposition Cry Foul over RCI Report on BNM’s Forex Losses

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Furore over report given on the last day when it was ready on the first day of parliament, resulting in the report not being debated.

  • Lim Guan Eng questioned if there was a government conspiracy to hide the previously unknown RM21 billion losses 
  • Dr M’s lawyer said nature of the materials referred to in the RCI were based on hearsay, conjectures, presumptions and assumptions, and were not credible
  • PKR lawmaker R Sivarasa said Anwar should not be accused of misleading Cabinet on the losses as he was merely giving statements based on findings by the AG
  • Berish 2.0 dismissed the RCI as a “smokescreen” for the alleged 1MDB corruption and money laundering 
  • Maria Chin said if the government was truly sincere about transparency and economic accountability, it should start by openly probing 1MDB

Opposition leader Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail questioned why the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) report on Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) forex trading losses in the 1990s only reached the opposition’s table yesterday morning, the last day of parliament for the year.

“This is politically motivated. This report was ready and sent to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong six weeks ago. It should have been given to us earlier. Why wasn’t it? Today, when we asked to debate the findings, it was rejected.

Malay Mail

“This shows that whatever we have assumed before about the RCI is true: it is a political move over an issue that was resurrected after so many years to implicate their political adversaries,” she said at a press conference in the parliament building yesterday.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng echoed similar sentiments.

“This report has made some shocking recommendations, and just now when I got up to ask that MPs be allowed to debate on the report, the minister said the decision would be made later.

“I hope that something this significant will be given the space and not be covered up so that it can be decided later on by the federal government. It must be debated in parliament.”

He said the recommendations in the report were very significant and of high impact.

“The findings suggest action be taken against a former prime minister, finance minister, Bank Negara and its governor, all the board of directors, auditor-general, Khazanah and other ministries and their staff. Almost the whole financial system was implicated.”

Lim said he had brought up the matter in parliament in 1994 and, back then, the amount reported was just RM10.7 billion.

“Now the amount reported is RM31.5 billion. Now we see a figure that was not reported in parliament back then.

“How can RM21 billion be hidden by Bank Negara accounts or any other accounts? This raises serious questions.”

Lim said despite the figure being amortized over 10 years it still did not make sense.

“If it was done over a 10-year period, then why weren’t there recommendations to charge the prime minister and finance minister in 2004? Don’t tell me the prime minister at that time didn’t know? Are you going to seek action against Pak Lah (former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi)? 

“Was there a conspiracy to hide information? Then what assurances do we have that information has also been hidden on the current scandals? How can such a huge sum be hidden? ”

Amanah’s Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad said the date of the report was Oct 13, yet the report was only given to the opposition on the last day of Parliament.

“In fact, they could have put the report on our tables on the first day of parliament a month ago. 

“You are playing with this RCI, it should have been the most important agenda of this parliamentary session.”

Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said the nature of the materials referred to in the RCI proceedings were based on hearsay, conjectures, presumptions and assumptions which did not meet any legally acceptable level of credibility.

Fariz Iswadi Ismail/NST

Subang PKR lawmaker R Sivarasa said Anwar Ibrahim, who was the finance minister then, should not be accused of misleading the Cabinet over the losses as he was merely giving statements based on the findings by the Auditor-General’s (AG) Report on the forex trading.

“The AG is a professional accountant and although it had initially raised questions directly with BNM, Anwar as the deputy prime minister then told them to reply to those concerns,” said Sivarasa at a press conference in Parliament on Thursday.

He argued that professional accountants represented the AG and BNM, adding that it was the AG who had signed off the report.

“The question of misleading (the Cabinet) does not even arise, and you cannot expect a non-accountant to question the professional who was entrusted to do the job,” he said.

Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 dismissed the RCI into BNM’s forex losses as a “smokescreen” for the corruption and money laundering allegedly related to 1MDB.

In a statement issued by the Bersih steering committee, it said the BNM investigation was a way to fool the public by diverting their attention from the troubled state investment fund.

Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said if the government was truly sincere about transparency and economic accountability, it should start by openly investigating 1MDB.

She added that Bersih was surprised at the speed with which the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) conducted its investigations, contrasting this with the investigations into 1MDB which were closed despite ongoing probes in seven other countries.

“It is necessary for the government to take its own advice when it comes to the topic of 1MDB, especially in investigating and persecuting the individuals responsible for stealing money that rightfully belongs to the people of Malaysia,” she said.

Maria said the difference between forex losses and money laundering was that the latter is a criminal offence and is used to enrich the people involved at the expense of the citizens

“We are of the view that it is more important for the RCI to not make it into a political persecution to silence 1MDB critics,” she added.

Related reports:

Dec 1, Nor Mohamed, Anwar, Dr M Implicated over BNM Forex Losses

Sept 19, BNM RCI Wraps Up with Former AG Unable to Testify Due to Memory Loss

Sept 8, Anwar’s Testimony at Bank Negara’s RCI Proceeding

Sept 7, Zeti and Nor Mohamed Testify at Bank Negara RCI Proceedings

Aug 25, Day 2 RCI on BNM Forex Scandal