CIMB to query Islamic banking head over wrong analysis of 'money trail' documents

Badlisyah Abdul Ghani, chief executive officer of CIMB Islamic Banking.
Badlisyah Abdul Ghani, chief executive officer of CIMB Islamic Banking.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

PETALING JAYA - Malaysia's CIMB Bank will investigate its Islamic Bank chief executive officer Badlisyah Abdul Ghani who made a wrong analysis in disputing documents released by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) alleging transfers of state funds to Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal accounts.

In a post on his Facebook page, Badlisyah accused WSJ of using fradulent documents in its report alleging that US$700 million (S$947 million) worth of 1MDB-linked funds were transferred into Najib's accounts, the Malaysiakini news website reported.

He claimed, among other things, that the Swift Code in the documents did not match that of the New York-based Wells Fargo Bank. He said the Swift Code for the Wells Fargo Bank is "PNBPUS3NNYC" but the document released by WSJ stated it as "PNBPUS3NANYC".

He said the latter code belongs to Alfa-Bank Moscow.

"This is not just a tell-tale sign the document is an absolute hoax but a very firm confirmation that the document is a hoax or a fraud.

"How could WSJ miss this factual error?" he said in the Facebook post circulated on pro-Umno blogs.

But Malaysiakini later disputed his claim, saying that the Swift code for Alfa-Bank Moscow was ALFARUMM.

"A check showed that the 'PNBUS3NANYC' Swift code belonged to its predecessor, Wachovia Bank, which was subsequently taken over by Wells Fargo Bank in 2008.

"It is unclear why the transaction used a Swift code belonging to the predecessor of Wells Fargo Bank or how long the transition to a new Swift code would take."

On Wednesday night, Badlisyah admitted he made an error in his analysis and said that he has since corrected it.

"I would like to make clear that all the views published on my Facebook account are strictly my PERSONAL views and not the views of any other individual or organisation. They were meant for private consumption among a group of friends.

"I would also like to acknowledge that I had made an error in my post with regards to my analysis of the various SWIFT codes.

"The mistakes were correctly pointed out by a report in Malaysiakini on the matter, and I have also made the correction on my Facebook page," said Badlisyah, who had since deleted his Facebook posts.

Late on Wednesday, CIMB group chairman Nazir Razak apologised for the incident, saying Badlisyah should not have commented on a "technical matter."

"Posts have been removed as it is a technical matter on which he should not be commenting. Our apologies, we will conduct an internal inquiry," he said.

Nazir, who is the younger brother of Najib, has been critical of 1MDB in the past, and has made numerous calls for transparency into the matter.