I have never received any bribes: Husband of Malaysia's ex-central bank governor

Datuk Tawfiq Ayman (left) is the husband of Malaysia's former central bank governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz. PHOTOS: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The husband of Malaysia's former Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz has denied he received any bribes as alleged by a star witness in a case linked to state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

Dismissing the testimony of former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner as totally untrue, Datuk Tawfiq Ayman said he neither knew nor communicated with Leissner or Roger Ng, the former Goldman investment banker who has been charged in the New York District Court with conspiring to launder funds.

"I wish to categorically state that throughout my life, I have never received any bribes from anyone," online portal Malaysiakini quoted Mr Tawfiq as saying.

Mr Tawfiq said in view of the ongoing proceedings in New York, he has been advised not comment further and will be seeking legal advice on the next course of action.

Ng, 49, Goldman's former head of investment banking in Malaysia, is charged with conspiring to launder money and violate an anti-bribery law, while Leissner is the star witness in the ongoing case.

Leissner claimed that Ng, a Malaysian, had told him about the bribery involved to obtain the central bank's "unprecedented" approval for the transfer of US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) to PetroSaudi International.

However, he could not independently verify if it was true.

Mr Tawfiq's wife, Tan Sri Zeti, was the central bank governor at the time.

Leissner mentioned the alleged bribery when he was asked by prosecutors on his dealings with the PetroSaudi-1MDB joint venture project.

"In 2009 there were still capital controls in place and a billion dollars was wired overnight to the joint-venture because the husband of the then governor had received a bribe," said Leissner.

"So overnight that money was transferred which was unprecedented at that time as no approval was obtained that quickly from Bank Negara," he said.

It was reported on Jan 24 that Mr Tawfiq and former minister in the prime minister's department Nor Mohamed Yakcop were being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission over 1MDB funds.

In response to Leissner's testimony, Bank Negara on Thursday (Feb 24) said that all investments abroad by resident entities are subject to the requirements under the Exchange Control Act (ECA) 1953 which was in force until 2013 and replaced by the Financial Services Act 2013.

On Thursday Malaysian lawmaker Lim Lip Eng asked if the relevant authorities would investigate the allegations raised in Leissner's testimony in court.

"Why have there not been any arrests despite the authorities being aware of Leissner's testimony? How much longer do the people have to wait?" said Mr Lim, MP for Kepong and a member of the oppposition Democratic Action Party, in a statement issued on Thursday.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.