Anwar Ibrahim testifies before Kuala Lumpur's forex task force

Former Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at the Federal Court on Dec 14, 2016.
Former Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at the Federal Court on Dec 14, 2016.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PUTRAJAYA • Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was yesterday taken from his prison cell, where he is serving a five-year jail term for sodomy, to give his testimony in front of a government task force, which is looking into billions of dollars lost in foreign exchange trading in the 1980s during the Mahathir era.

Anwar's daughter, Ms Nurul Izzah, told local media that the family was informed of her father's appearance before the task force and rushed to Putrajaya to see him, but was prevented from doing so.

Anwar was deputy prime minister to then Premier Mahathir Mohamad when the central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), was actively speculating in the forex market in the 1980s. Anwar was also Malaysia's finance minister when the scandal broke in the early 1990s.

The forex losses reported in 1991 forced the resignation of BNM governor Jaffar Hussein. A former BNM assistant governor, Datuk Abdul Murad Khalid, had claimed in January that some RM44 billion (S$14 billion) was lost then, and not the RM9 billion publicly reported.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, attacked by Tun Dr Mahathir over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad financial scandal, is trying to turn the tables by forming a task force to look into the billions lost in the older financial scandal. Dr Mahathir, once a staunch backer of Datuk Seri Najib, is now an opposition leader with his own political party.

The Malaysian Cabinet in February appointed the former chief secretary to the government, Mr Mohd Sidek Hassan, to head the task force.

The task force will conduct preliminary investigations into the losses and study if there were any cover-ups or deliberate acts of giving misleading statements then, the Prime Minister's Office said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2017, with the headline 'Anwar testifies before KL's forex task force'. Print Edition | Subscribe