‘Set up RCI to probe 1990s forex losses’

The task force probing the foreign exchange losses suffered by Bank Negara in the 1990s should recommend a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to delve further into the incident, say members of civil society.

Senior lawyer Datuk K. Kumaraendran said the scope of the task force was to confirm whether there was any cover-up.

“That would be a good move as the public deserves to know how such substantial amounts of money were lost.”

Former Bank Negara assistant governor Datuk Abdul Murad Khalid has claimed the central bank suffered US$10bil in forex market losses in the early 1990s, far higher than it had admitted.

The Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) executive director Cynthia Gabriel said all “mega scandals” warrant nothing short of an RCI.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Foundation president Datuk Seri Zakaria Jaffar questioned whether an effective investigation could be carried out as some witnesses might not be available nearly 20 years after the incident.

He added, however, that the paper trail would still be significant.

The task force probing the losses had on Tuesday announced that it would be wrapping up its investigations in three months.

The panel, chaired by former chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, includes Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission deputy chief commissioner Datuk Azam Baki, Bukit Aman commercial crimes director Comm Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani, Securities Commission chairman Tan Sri Ranjit Ajit Singh, Task Force to Facilitate Business (Pemudah) co-chairman Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon, Retirement Fund Inc chief executive officer Datuk Wan Kamaruzaman Wan Ahmad and senior lawyer Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos.

The Finance Ministry’s strategic investment division director Datuk Dr Yusof Ismail is the task force secretary.

Zakaria said the panel members appeared to bring a wide skill set to cover all angles of an investigation.

“We put our faith in them to do the work and are reserving any criticism until we see their results,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s Office, in a statement, said that the task force would conduct preliminary investigations into the forex losses, allegedly amounting to billions of ringgit.

The Cabinet set up the task force to ascertain the cause and actual quantum of losses, and also to determine whether there was any misconduct.-16/3/2017

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