KUALA LUMPUR: The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) foreign exchange losses of the 1990s will be presenting its findings to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong tomorrow.
RCI chairman Tan Sri Sidek Hassan is slated to meet the King at Istana Negara at 5pm. He has been granted a one-hour audience with Sultan Muhammad V beginning 5pm.
The RCI concluded its inquiry into the case on Sept 19 after the testimonies of 25 witnesses and after going through 42 documents.
On its first day of the inquiry, the RCI revealed that a massive RM31.5 billion was lost between 1991 and 1994 and that this was hidden from the central bank.
Various high profile names were summoned to the inquiry, including Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, during whose tenure as prime minister the losses occurred.
Also among those who appeared before the panel members was Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was then finance minister, with former BNM adviser Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop also giving testimony.
But the key witness was former BNM assistant governor Datuk Abdul Murad Khalid, who had claimed that Anwar had known about the losses as he had briefed the then finance minister whilst aboard a flight to Hawaii with him in 1994.
Murad also claimed that when he finished briefing Anwar, the latter remarked that should word of the losses be made public, he would have to step down as finance minister.
He also testified that he had informed then BNM governor Tan Sri Jaffar Hussein about the losses in 1992 but was “scolded” as his boss did not believe him.
Murad also claimed that there had been no check and balance system in the BNM foreign exchange trading then.
He added that despite the fact that the central bank could not be involved in transactions which were speculative in nature, in accordance with the Central Bank of Malaysia Ordinance 1958, the trading being done in the 1980s until 1993 were indeed speculative and a form of gambling.
Murad had claimed the losses to be the “biggest scandal in world banking history”, adding that a cover-up had to be done to protect BNM’s image and that of the Malaysian government.
Sidek, who is a former chief secretary to the government, was assisted by High Court judge Datuk Kamaludin Md Said, Bursa Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan, Special Task Force to Facilitate Business (Pemudah) co-chairman Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon and Malaysian Institute of Accountants member K. Puspanathan.
The commission’s secretary was Datuk Dr Yusof Ismail, who is the Finance Ministry’s strategic investment division director.
The commission’s terms of reference were:
* to determine the veracity of the allegation surrounding the forex losses incurred by BNM and its implications on the national economy;
* to determine if the involvement of BNM in forex activities which resulted in losses contravened the Central Bank Ordinance 1958 or other related laws;
* to determine if there were elements to conceal facts and information regarding this as well as the issuance of statements which misled the cabinet, Parliament and public; and,
* to recommend actions to be taken against anyone found to have been involved and steps to ensure such an incident does not recur.