KUALA LUMPUR: As police begin to investigate whether there is any element of fraud that caused Bank Negara’s forex losses in the 1990s, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has threatened to file a court action to block the circulation of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) report on the matter.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Bukit Aman’s Commercial Crime Investigation Department will be conducting the investigations.
Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said that the RCI had lodged a police report asking to probe whether criminal breach of trust, fraud and cheating had been committed resulting in the staggering losses amounting to RM31.5bil between 1992 and 1994.
“The RCI, which does not have enforcement powers, recommended that these investigations are necessary.
“They recommended that several personalities named in the RCI report be investigated according to the relevant laws,” he told a press conference here yesterday.
Separately, Dr Mahathir’s lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla issued a statement saying that he will write to the RCI secretariat to stop publishing the report until it includes Dr Mahathir’s 495 pages of written submission.
“We are intending to write to the secretariat for the RCI on Monday to demand that they stop circulating or publishing the current report until they insert all the 495 pages of Dr Mahathir’s material in the report.
“We shall give them until Friday, Dec 8, to forward a positive response. Failing which, we shall put in a judicial review application to prohibit the publication of the ‘half-cooked’ report,” Haniff said in a statement issued yesterday.
The 524-page report, tabled in Parliament on Thursday, had said that Dr Mahathir, who was the prime minister at that time, had given the green light to the finance minister’s misleading statements.
The report also added that the then finance minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had “deliberately concealed facts and information and made misleading statements to the Cabinet.
The RCI also implicated Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, who was in charge of BNM’s forex dealing operations at the time.
Meanwhile, Yayasan 1Malaysia chairman Chandra Muzaffar hailed the Government’s move in setting up the RCI, pointing out that it was important for the public to have closure over the controversial issue.
“The RCI is a commendable effort by the Government because it is something that should have been investigated a long time ago, given the magnitude of the losses,” he said.
He said those who were implicated in the report must be held responsible.
“They should be held responsible to a certain extent, given the roles they performed and the positions they occupied,” he added.
Chandra said that it is important to condemn the practice of currency speculation as it is ethically wrong.
“I think that’s the real issue and currency speculation is not unique to Malaysia alone.
“This is happening in a lot of countries such as the US, the UK, Japan and South Korea.
“It is wrong for central banks to be involved in forex trading and currency speculation,” he said.
Meanwhile, adjunct senior fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies Oh Ei Sun finds it interesting that the two-decade old scandal was resurrected.