Zeti must now explain forex scandal

PKR Youth submits four-point memorandum to Bank Negara governor demanding answers.

Syed Jaymal Zahiid, FMT

PKR Youth wing wants Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz to divulge details and explain the 1990s forex scandal that cost the bank RM5.7 billion in losses.

The wing’s chief, Syamsul Iskandar Ikin, said the muted response by the governor at the time Nor Mohamed Yackop was “disappointing”.

Syamsul said the onus was now on Zeti to clear the central bank’s name following allegations that it had tried to bury the controversy from public knowledge.

Former deputy prime minister and finance minister, Anwar Ibrahim, told Parliament that BNM’s involvement in the foreign currency trading was done under the instruction of his predecessor Daim Zainuddin, the right hand man of then premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar also alleged that Mahathir had told him “not to touch” Nor and that he had tried to put a stop to it.

Prior to that, a former BNM official had named Nor, now a federal minister, as the foray’s main culprit together with another former governor, the late Jaffar Hussein, although Anwar later said the former was not directly involved.

Lawmakers from the ruling coalition claimed Anwar was also involved since he was the finance minister at the time but he denied the allegation, saying the “gambling” took place without his knowledge.

Clear Anwar’s name

Jaffar subsequently resigned after the scandal went public. He was then replaced by Nor.

In the four-point memorandum submitted to BNM officials today, PKR said the central bank must reply to the allegations made by Anwar.

“This involves public interest and the bank must answer,” he told reporters under the watchful eyes of the police after meeting BNM officials here.

Earlier estimation of losses incurred from the forex venture was said to be in the RM30 billion region but Deputy Finance Minister Donald Lim told the Dewan Rakyat gave a significantly lower number of RM5.7 billion.

The opposition had promised to open up investigations into the scandal if they are voted to power at the upcoming national polls.

Syamsul said the BNM must also clear Anwar’s name if details disclosed on the scandal contradicts Lim’s accusation that the former deputy prime minister must be held accountable for the mishap.