Malaysia's central bank chief, in her first public comments on a scandal surrounding state investment firm 1MDB, yesterday said the bank had completed its investigations and submitted its findings to the Attorney-General.
Bank Negara Malaysia governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz did not elaborate on the findings but stressed it was not empowered to probe Prime Minister Najib Razak for the controversial depositing of US$700 million (S$983 million) into his private accounts over the past two years.
Tan Sri Zeti also disclosed at a press conference yesterday that seven of her officers were questioned by police over "purported leaks" of banking information that led to the July 3 reports in The Wall Street Journal concerning the money in Datuk Seri Najib's accounts.
However, she dismissed recent rumours of her resignation, insisting she would "certainly remain in office until my term ends".
NOT CENTRAL BANK'S JOB TO INVESTIGATE PM
...it is not under our purview. That is under other enforcement agencies. The central bank only looks at contravention of our law and assists other enforcement agencies that investigate contravention to their laws.
BANK NEGARA MALAYSIA GOVERNOR ZETI AKHTAR AZIZ, when asked if the central bank had investigated Datuk Seri Najib
"It is a five-year term and ends next year," she said, adding that it would be 16 years as central bank head for her when her contract ends in April next year.
When asked if the central bank had investigated Mr Najib, Dr Zeti said "it is not under our purview".
"That is under other enforcement agencies," she said of investigations into the funds in the Premier's accounts, of which US$681 million was transferred just weeks before the 2013 General Election. Mr Najib's ruling Umno party described the money as political funding and the anti- graft agency has also cleared it as donations from the Middle East.
"The central bank only looks at contravention of our law and assists other enforcement agencies that investigate contravention to their laws," Dr Zeti added.
Citing secrecy clauses in banking law, she declined to offer any details of Bank Negara's investigations and assistance rendered to other agencies, but pointed out that she would have to disclose information should Parliament's bipartisan Public Accounts Committee summon her to testify in its inquiry into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The inquiry is currently suspended.
Dr Zeti's press conference came as the central bank released figures showing that growth in the Malaysian economy had cooled in the second quarter. She insisted, however, that the economy remained resilient "in this challenging environment" and she expected it "to remain on a steady growth path".
She also said the ringgit's depreciation was manageable and the central bank would seek to rebuild foreign exchange reserves after they dropped below US$100 billion for the first time since 2010.
Mr Najib said yesterday that "excessive political speculation" is among several reasons behind the ringgit's slide against the US dollar.
In a blog posting, he acknowledged that such speculation had stirred sentiments against the government. Still, he said, despite factors including a "negative picture" painted by some quarters on the country's economy, "Bank Negara has shown that our economy is on the right track".
"I am giving my assurance that the government will do its best to... stabilise the country's economy."
Mr Najib is battling to remain in office amid calls for him to quit, largely because of the alleged mismanagement of 1MDB - which racked up RM42 billion (S$15 billion) in debts in its first five years of operation - and scrutiny over funds transferred to his accounts.
Leaders of the ruling Barisan Nasional's component parties are set to meet Mr Najib today at a gathering of the coalition's supreme council. Parti Rakyat Sarawak president James Masing confirmed the meeting would take place at the Putra World Trade Centre but said he did not know the issues to be discussed. People's Progressive Party president M. Kayveas described it as a "normal meeting".