Australian court told of ‘secret deals’ in Bank Negara’s polymer notes printing

(The Sun) – A Malaysian middleman who secured the contract for the printing of polymer notes for Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) received payments of more than A$1.35 million (about RM4.36 million) in two tranches in a single day.

These were part of the more than A$3 million (RM9.68 million) paid over four years by two companies owned by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) that had supplied the notes.

As the committal hearing of eight former employees of RBA-related companies progressed in a Melbourne court on charges of bribery and corruption, more startling revelations emerged on the secret deals made between them and Malaysian middlemen and agents.

(RBA owns both Note Printing Australia Ltd (NPA), which specialises in printing polymer bank notes, and Securency International Pty Ltd, a specialist in supplying substrates for the printing process.)

In a deposition, the former financial controller of NPA, Raimond Kukk, noted that there was even a suggestion of depositing money into the account of a child of the middleman, Abdul Kayoum Syed Ahmad (pic), a director of Aksavest Sdn Bhd which acted as a conduit between RBA and BNM.

The deposition also says:

  • The quotation to BNM for the cost of printing the RM5 notes was revised upwards to include Abdul Kayoum’s commission;
  • The cost of the finished notes varied in the quotations between A$77.49 (RM249.98) and A$80.55 (RM259.86) per thousand banknotes in the initial stages but was increased to between A$102.25 (RM329.86) and A$109.95 (RM354.70) to incorporate the commissions payable to Abdul Kayoum. However, the contract was sealed as A$95 (RM306.47) per thousand notes;
  • Abdul Kayoum had requested that part of the money be deposited in his child’s account in Queensland but was refused by NPA;
  • Abdul Kayoum was “sacked” as an agent after allegations of corrupt deals emerged in the media in 2007 but continued to receive payments for his services;
  • Kayoum’s commission for getting the BNM contract doubled from 10% (of the contract) in 1999 to 20% in 2003.

Kukk, who worked in NPA from 1969 until retirement in 2007, said that in late 2003 or early 2004, he was approached to have a partial payment of the commission made to Kayoum via an account in Queensland.

“A colleague told me Kayoum’s child was undertaking university studies in Queensland and the payment would go towards off-setting some of the expenses,” he said.

“He explained to me this would assist Kayoum and his family and keep things simpler in terms of exchange rate movements.

“I advised that NPA should continue to only make payments into the Aksavest account that NPA was using.”

Last July, Abdul Kayoum was charged with two counts with giving bribes amounting to RM100,000 to former BNM assistant governor Datuk Mohamad Daud Dol Moin. He claimed trial.

Mohamad Daud was also charged with two counts of corruptly receiving bribes totaling RM100,000 from Abdul Kayoum as an inducement to procure for Securency, a contract from BNM, for the printing and supply of RM5 polymer banknotes.

In providing details of payments made to the Malaysian, Kukk provided amounts and dates of money transfers from bank accounts in Australia to accounts in Malaysia and Singapore.

“NPA got its first contract from BNM in late December 2003 to print 160 million RM5 notes, Abdul Kayoum received a commission of 17% for this contract.
“The contract was worth approximately A$15 million (RM48.39 million) to NPA and Abdul Kayoum received a total commissions in excess of A$2 million (RM6.45 million) for ‘services rendered’,” Kukk said.

His deposition also contains his fears of having to pay Abdul Kayoum through a Singapore bank account, as previously all monies were remitted to Malaysia.
“On June 2, 2005, I facilitated a payment of A$350,755 (RM1.13 million) into Abdul Kayoum’s bank account in Malaysia and second payment on the same day totalling A$1 million (RM3.23 million) into an account in the name of ‘Abdul Kayoum Syed Ahmad’ in a HSBC account in Singapore.

“I recall I made enquiries by phone and fax with HSBC to ensure the validity of the account and that the beneficiary was Abdul Kayoum.

“Prior to making the payment, I had discussions with a colleague as we thought the request regarding payment into Singapore was unusual. However upon establishing the validity of the account, two senior officers authorised the payments to proceed.”

Securency chief executive Myles Curtis, former Securency company secretary Mitchell Anderson, NPA chief financial officer Peter Hutchinson, NPA chief executive John Leckenby, NPA sales executive Barry Brady, Securency sales boss Clifford Gerathy and Securency sales executive Ron Marchant are also charged with conspiring to bribe foreign officials.

The hearings are ongoing.