Top Finance Ministry official set to be new governor of Malaysia's central bank: Wall Street Journal

Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah (left).
Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah (left). PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - A top Malaysian finance ministry official is set to be appointed as the new central bank governor to replace Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz next week, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed sources.

Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah will replace Ms Zeti, who steps down as Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor on April 30 after 16 years at the helm, the report claimed.

When contacted by Reuters, Dr Mohd Irwan said in a text message he did not know if he had been shortlisted for the role.

A spokesman at the Prime Minister's office told Reuters he would not comment on speculation. A central bank spokesman said the bank could not comment on the matter.

Ms Zeti is widely respected, and credited for pushing reforms and sounds policies, as well as protecting the independence of the central bank. There has been no official word on her replacement.

Market participants feared political interference in the appointment by Prime Minister Najib Razak's government, especially after Bank Negara Malaysia insisted that state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) be charged for fiscal mismanagement.

Dr Mohd Irwan was one of candidates short-listed for the job along with deputy central bank governor Muhammad Ibrahim, the minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of Economic Planning Abdul Wahid Omar and the Malaysian ambassador to the US Awang Adek Hussin, Reuters reported in February.

A career civil servant, Dr Mohd Irwan is currently the Treasury Secretary-General at the Finance Ministry, which is headed by Datuk Seri Najib.

He is also a member of the board of advisors for 1MDB.