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.
FAIRUZ MOHD SHAHAR PUTRAJAYA email@example.com
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.