Unjust to leave me out of BNM forex RCI, says Anwar

(FMT) – Former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim says the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the losses suffered by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) due to foreign exchange (forex) trading in the 1990s will be unjust if he was not present at the hearings.

Highlighting his concern that he was not allowed to attend the RCI which started on Monday, the former opposition leader says he was definitely a person who is “concerned” with the proceedings.

“I am without question a person who is ‘concerned’ with the proceedings of the Inquiry as provided for under section 18 of the Commissions of Enquiry Act 1950.

“Therefore, I remain very concerned that I’m not allowed to be present despite repeated requests by my lawyers. I need to be there based on the fact that my name has been mentioned a number of times by certain witnesses,” Anwar said in a statement today, adding that he was only able to follow the proceedings through limited contact with his lawyers.

He is currently serving a five-year jail sentence at the Sungai Buloh Prison following his sodomy conviction in February 2015.

Anwar, who was finance minister in Mahathir’s cabinet in the 1990s, made particular mention of a statement attributed to former BNM deputy governor, Murad Abdul Khalid, which he said had incriminated him.

“I have read the witness statement of Murad Abdul Khalid, where at paragraph 37, he alleges that on a flight to Hawaii in early 1994, he briefed me on the BNM forex losses and that I had said that if those losses were made public, I would have to resign as finance minister.

“His malicious insinuation is clear, that is, that I had implied a cover-up was needed.

“That allegation is false. I never said that to him. I should stress that there was no need for me to say such a thing to a functionary like Murad who was sent by then BNM governor Jaffar Hussein to brief me on technical aspects of the accounting done by BNM and the contents of their annual report,” Anwar said, stressing that he had dealt directly with Jaffar at all other times.

“I would consider it quite unjust if other witnesses are allowed to make prejudicial allegations against me in front of the commission and I am not allowed to make my response to them in the same manner.”

Taking aim at Murad, Anwar said that the former deputy governor had been personally hostile towards him since 1999

“In 1999, he published a sworn statutory declaration making false and scurrilous accusations against me.

“This declaration was investigated by the then Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) and found to be completely baseless.

“A High Court judge affirmed these findings and said ‘the declaration had been discredited’ when he ruled in my favour in my libel suit against the New Straits Times which wrote an article referring to the declaration,” Anwar said, adding that he is willing to reiterate these statements to the RCI.

Anwar defended his actions following the BNM forex losses, saying he had been dealing with the issue since April 1993.

“At the time, I had given a reply in the Dewan Rakyat with figures and information based on BNM’s published 1992 report and briefings to me.

“I did the same again in Parliament in April 1994 based on BNM’s 1993 report and their updates to me.”