Mahathir says former central bank assistant governor should also be held accountable over forex losses

Dr Mahathir said that a former banker had known about the losses but chose to keep quiet.
Dr Mahathir said that a former banker had known about the losses but chose to keep quiet.PHOTO: REUTERS

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Wednesday (Dec 20) the former assistant governor of the country's central bank Abdul Murad Khalid should also be held accountable for its foreign exchange losses in the 1990s.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Nov 30 tabled to Parliament its recommendations about the losses incurred by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) when Tun Dr Mahathir was leading the country.

The RCI had found that BNM had lost approximately RM 31.5 billion (S$10.39 billion) between 1991 and 1994 and recommended that Dr Mahathir and jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who was then finance minister, be investigated for criminal breach of trust offences.

Dr Mahathir, who was Malaysia's prime minister from 1981 to 2003, said as a banker, Datuk Abdul Murad had known about the losses but chose to keep quiet about it and only revealed his knowledge recently.

"He could have exposed it much earlier, as well as the officers and the auditors involved, but he did not.

 

"If the then-prime minister and the then deputy prime minister are accused of hiding losses of up to RM 30billion, Mr Abdul Murad was even more involved in hiding the truth," Dr Mahathir wrote in his blog, chedet.cc, on Wednesday.

The RCI began in August after Mr Abdul Murad revealed in June that the central bank's losses amounted to at least US$10billion (then RM 25billion).

During the RCI, Mr Abdul Murad, who had taken over as manager of BNM's Banking Department in April 1992, said that he learned of the losses only in May of that year.

He also claimed that the forex losses were not reflected in the bank's profit and loss account, but were recorded in the "other reserves" account.

In his testimony, he said Anwar was briefed on the matter, and that Mr Abdul Murad was told that Anwar would have needed to resign from his finance minister's position if the real losses were revealed to the public.

Dr Mahathir, who is now Pakatan Harapan chairman, said it was clear that the RCI report merely focused on the involvement of the then prime minister, deputy prime minister, the finance minister and head of BNM's money market division.

"Everything is based on a presumption. And this presumption is considered as the truth for the police to take action," he said.

"The RCI is not the judiciary, but its report is more about punishing those involved," he added.

Both Dr Mahathir and Anwar are now leaders in the opposition alliance and have claimed that the inquiry is politically motivated to divert attention from a financial scandal linked to state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd revolving around Prime Minister Najib Razak.

On Tuesday, Dr Mahathir filed a suit seeking to declare that the RCI report was null and void.

In the six-page originating summons, he claimed the RCI report was illegal, incomplete and defective as it lacked proceeding notes, written and oral submissions through transcription or video recording.