Zeti: I’ll cooperate in forex losses probe if called


(The Sun Daiy) – Former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, who served the central bank for 35 years, said she is willing to extend her cooperation to the special task force set up to investigate huge losses suffered 25 years ago due to foreign exchange trading.

“If I’m called, of course, I would cooperate,” she told reporters after attending the launch of seven publications by lnternational Education Centre in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) yesterday.

INCEIF, a unit set up under Bank Negara to develop human capital and knowledge leadership for the Islamic finance industry, launched a total of six books and a monograph that address a wide range of topics on Islamic finance.

Zeti highlighted that the initial probe into the losses, which happened some time in 1992, was completed before she helmed Bank Negara between 2000 and 2016. Tan Sri Jaffar Hussein was the governor at that time.

The “official” amount of losses announced by the central bank was RM9 billion, but the matter was resurrected by a former Bank Negara assistant governor, Datuk Abdul Murad Khalid, who claimed that losses suffered totalled some US$10 billion. On that, Zeti declined to comment.

“I cannot comment on it until the investigation is completed. As you know, it’s always a practice of any organisation, including the central bank, not to comment while there is an ongoing investigation.

“It’s premature to say anything. Until then we should allow the process to take place,” she said.

Zeti stressed that under her leadership, the central bank took all the necessary actions to ensure that it continued to stand solid.

“The bank has the most vigorous management and governance structure already in place, so that something like that could not happen again. Bank Negara is very focused on its mandate and I have every confidence that it will stay focused,” she said.

The Cabinet on Wednesday announced the appointment of former chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan to head the special task force.

The task force will make recommendations and suggestions for consideration by the Cabinet for follow-up action, including the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry if needed, based on the outcome of the probe.

On a separate note, Cagamas Bhd, which sponsored the publications launched yesterday, said it targets issuance of RM10.5 billion worth of notes this year, higher than the RM6 billion to RM7 billion last year.
“We expect probably this year, more banks will be selling their housing loans to us, so we expect the issuance to increase,” said CEO Datuk Chung Chee Leong.

Of the RM10.5 billion, 65% is expected to be conventional notes and the remaining Islamic bonds.

Cagamas is tasked with promoting the broader spread of house ownership and growth of the secondary mortgage market in Malaysia, through the issuance of corporate bonds and sukuk to finance the purchase of housing loans from financial institutions and non-financial institutions.