BAFIA charges against Rafizi should stay, say NFCorp lawyers

Ida Lim, The Malaysian Insider

The National Feedlot Corporation’s (NFCorp) lawyers said today that the court charges against PKR’s Rafizi Ramli for allegedly breaching banking laws should stay, saying that such breaches such not be allowed “under the pretext of whistleblowing”.

On August 1, Rafizi (picture) was charged with violating the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (BAFIA) by exposing confidential banking details of NFCorp, in a case that has highlighted the importance of protecting bank customers’ data and also caused renewed scrutiny of the country’s whistleblower protection laws.

The NFCorp runs the National Feedlot Centre (NFC), a RM250 million federal-funded cattle-farming project that has been at the centre of a major national scandal.

“If BAFIA is allowed to be breached under the pretext of whistle blowing, the very stratum of banking collapses,” Shafee & Co, the law firm representing NFCorp, warned in a statement. 

In explaining why the BAFIA charges against Rafizi “should stand firm”, the law firm claimed that Rafizi had “illegally obtained” certain bank documents.

“Rafizi obtained the bank documents without the permission of the account holders, the bank or the permission of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM).

“The Attorney-General and Bank Negara Malaysia should not be swayed by political rhetorics but to investigate Rafizi’s absolute breach of BAFIA,” it said.

“Malaysia’s well-respected banking and financial systems should not be compromised whatsoever for political dramas and sensationalism,” the law firm said.

It added that several leaders in the banking industry, including the Association of Banks Malaysia chairman, had stressed that “client confidentiality or secrecy must be upheld at all cost.”

Shafee & Co also said that under the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010, a genuine whistleblower should first report to the authorities to allow them to take action.