PUTRAJAYA: The first day of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) forex losses in the 1990s saw the panel chairman today expressing bewilderment that the losses were not recorded in the central bank’s reports.
Mohd Sidek Hassan said it had been found that losses involving large sums of money did indeed exist.
“However, they are not in the BNM reports,” he said, adding that it was bewildering that no one appeared to know about it.
“In fact, no one even took any action or opened any investigation. Did they shut their eyes in this matter?” he said at the RCI venue at the Palace of Justice here.
The RCI was formed last month to investigate losses estimated to be about US$10 billion (RM43 billion at today’s rate) when Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the prime minister.
Besides Sidek, the panel also comprises High Court judge Kamaludin Md Said, Special Task Force to Facilitate Business (Pemudah) co-chairman Saw Choo Boon and Bursa Malaysia CEO Tajuddin Atan.
Also involved are Malaysian Institute of Accountants member K Pushpanathan and the finance ministry’s strategic investment department secretary Yusof Ismail, who also heads the RCI’s secretariat.
Tajuddin said he wanted to know about the issue in-depth after he had heard testimonies by former BNM assistant governor Abdul Murad Khalid, and BNM officers Abdul Aziz Abdul Manaf and Ahmad Hizzad Baharuddin today.
Saw also questioned how the matter could have been kept undisclosed for so long when BNM had several departments in its organisation, including the accounts department.
Prior to this, Pakatan Harapan (PH) had welcomed the RCI but had questioned the motive for having it now when Mahathir, 92, is now chairman of PH and PPBM, ahead of the 14th general election (GE14).
De facto leader of PH and PKR, Anwar Ibrahim, who was deputy prime minister and finance minister from 1991 to 1998 when the scandal took place, is now serving a five-year jail sentence after being convicted for sodomy.