Find­ings on forex losses in 3 months

THE gov­ern­ment ap­points high-pow­ered fig­ures to a task force to in­ves­ti­gate for­eign ex­change losses by Bank Ne­gara in the 1990s. De­tails of what is ex­pected of the com­mit­tee are also an­nounced.

New Straits Times - - Front Page -

FAIRUZ MOHD SHAHAR PU­TRA­JAYA news@nst.com.my

THE gov­ern­ment yes­ter­day named mem­bers of the spe­cial task force es­tab­lished to in­ves­ti­gate Bank Ne­gara Malaysia (BNM) for­eign ex­change (forex) losses in the early 1990s and set the terms of ref­er­ence for the probe.

They are Malaysian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (MACC) deputy chief com­mis­sioner Datuk Azam Baki; Po­lice Com­mer­cial Crimes De­part­ment di­rec­tor Datuk Acryl Sani Ab­dul­lah Sani; Se­cu­ri­ties Com­mis­sion Malaysia chair­man Tan Sri Ran­jit Ajit Singh; Re­tire­ment Fund Inc. chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Datuk Wan Ka­maruza­man Wan Ah­mad; Pe­mu­dah co-chair­man Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon; and lawyer Datuk Seri Ja­hab­erdeen Mo­hamed Yunoos.

Fi­nance Min­istry Strate­gic In­vest­ment Di­vi­sion di­rec­tor Datuk Dr Yu­sof Is­mail was named as the task force sec­re­tary and sec­re­tariat head.

Task force chair­man Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Has­san, in a state­ment is­sued yes­ter­day, said the team would look into all as­pects when car­ry­ing out the probe.

He said the terms of ref­er­ence in­cluded con­duct­ing pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tions into losses by BNM re­lated to its spec­u­la­tive for­eign cur­rency trans­ac­tions.

“The task force needs to in­ves­ti­gate whether there was ac­tion to cover up the losses and whether there was any act of giv­ing mis­lead­ing state­ments on the mat­ter to Par­lia­ment.

“The task force will sub­mit rec­om­men­da­tions to the gov­ern­ment on fur­ther ac­tion, in­clud­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of a Royal Com­mis­sion of In­quiry, if nec­es­sary, based on the re­sults of the probe,” said the for­mer chief sec­re­tary to the gov­ern­ment.

Sidek said to achieve this, the task force would look into the roles and func­tions of BNM and/or other body cor­po­rate or in­di­vid­u­als in the spec­u­la­tive for­eign cur­rency trans­ac­tions, in­clud­ing mat­ters per­tain­ing to au­tho­ri­sa­tion and man­age­ment of the said ac­tiv­i­ties.

“We will also look into com­pli­ance with rel­e­vant laws, reg­u­la­tions and guide­lines per­tain­ing to BNM’s roles and func­tions in the for­eign cur­rency trans­ac­tions.

“We will also in­ves­ti­gate whether there was any at­tempt to cover up the real scale of BNM’s losses and the in­di­vid­u­als com­plicit in the cover-up,” he said.

The task force, Sidek said, aimed to com­plete its in­ves­ti­ga­tion and present its find­ings to the cab­i­net in three months.

He said the task force would in­clude a rec­om­men­da­tion on whether the Royal Com­mis­sion of In­quiry should be formed to in­ves­ti­gate the claims in greater de­tail.

He also called on any­one with in­for­ma­tion on what hap­pened in re­la­tion to the losses suf­fered by BNM to share it with the task force.

The cab­i­net had, on Feb 22, ap­pointed Sidek as the chair­man of the task force af­ter it was re­ported that the cen­tral bank suf­fered US$10 bil­lion (RM44.4 bil­lion) in for­eign ex­change mar­ket losses in the early 1990s, far higher than it had ever ad­mit­ted.

The New Straits Times, in break­ing the story on Jan 27, quoted for­mer BNM as­sis­tant gover­nor Datuk Ab­dul Mu­rad Khalid as say­ing that no one was ever in­ves­ti­gated or charged for what he de­scribed as the big­gest forex losses in the world.

Mu­rad, 64, claimed there was no proper doc­u­men­ta­tion of the huge trans­ac­tions, and that only a top cen­tral banker and a ju­nior staff had a record of all the deals, which oc­curred dur­ing the premier­ship of Tun Dr Ma­hathir Mo­hamad.

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