PETALING JAYA: The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) has been cautioned to weigh carefully the evidence of a former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) adviser whose credibility is now under question, lawyers for Anwar Ibrahim said.
Counsel Gurdial Singh Nijar and Sivarasa Rasiah said evidence given by Anwar and Abdul Murad Khalid before the RCI on forex losses suffered by BNM differed greatly.
They said Murad claimed that in early 1994 he briefed Anwar, then a former finance minister, about the forex losses at the request of the then governor Jaffar Hussein.
The lawyers said Murad, in his evidence, claimed that Anwar told him he would have to resign as finance minister if the actual forex losses were made public.
They said this was a malicious and false allegation by Murad and was challenged by Anwar in his testimony.
“And it simply does not square up with the other evidence. Because, Anwar had already been briefed by Jaffar in early 1993 with regard to the forex losses issue and based on BNM’s audited accounts verified by the auditor-general,” they said.
Further, Anwar had already briefed Parliament in April 1993 and 1994.
“It ought to be recalled that it was Murad’s press conference in January 2017 that kicked off the BNM forex issue leading rather speedily to the setting up of this RCI, ” the lawyers said in a written submission filed at the tribunal’s secretariat yesterday.
They reminded the RCI that Murad was involved in the controversial forex operations since 1992 under the authority of BNM adviser Mohamed Nor Yakcop.
“He (Murad) took charge in early 1993 and was directed to progressively unwind all forward transactions. He resigned from BNM in 1999.
“Why did it take him 18 years to decide to say something about it and why now?” they asked.
They lawyers said Murad was a person of little credibility and the RCI should take note that he was convicted of failing to disclose assets up to RM23 million and fined RM500,000 after pleading guilty.
They said the fact that Murad had accumulated large assets while working in BNM from 1976 also raised some critical questions about his integrity.
The lawyers said Murad had also made some serious allegations against Anwar which were reported by the New Straits Times (NST).
Anwar succeeded in his defamation action against the NST for publishing the allegations.
On Jan 27, this year, Murad had given an interview to the NST and Utusan Malaysia reporters, and, among other things, said that BNM lost about US$10 billion.
He said BNM did not conduct any internal investigation and neither did any law enforcement agency.
Murad was appointed manager of the Banking Department of the central bank in April 1992, and later from April 1, 1994, was made assistant governor-cum-adviser until his resignation in 1999.
The five-man RCI chaired by Mohd Sidek Hassan is expected to submit their recommendations to the king and the government on Oct 13.