PUTRAJAYA, Aug 21 — The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) today disclosed that approximately RM31.5 billion was lost from Bank Negara Malaysia during Malaysia’s foreign exchange losses scandal in the early 1990s.
The commission’s chairman Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan said the amount was concluded based on statements given by several BNM employees during the proceedings today.
“We have made a finding today that BNM lost RM31.5 billion between 1991 and 1994,” he said in today’s inquiry, held at the Palace of Justice court complex here.
Among those who testified today include BNM’s former deputy governor Datuk Abdul Murad Khalid, Datuk Ahmad Hizzad Baharuddin and Abdul Aziz Abdul Manap.
Mohd Sidek also said that based on the testimonies made today, someone had actively taken efforts to hide the RM31.5 billion loss from the BNM reports.
“The figure was hidden somewhere from Bank Negara’s report. We have to find out who was responsible for asking for it to be hidden,” he said.
Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, representing former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad meanwhile criticised Mohd Sidek for coming to a conclusion at the very first day of the inquiry.
“At the end of the questioning, remarkably to our surprise the chairman gave a what I say was an unnecessary conclusion.
“To my understanding any findings ada made at the end. The commission should not enter such a practice,” he said outside the courtroom today.
Dr Mahathir was the prime minister during the 1990s when BNM was alleged to have incurred billions of ringgit of losses through trading in foreign currencies.
Other than Mohd Sidek, the panel includes Special Task Force to Facilitate Business co-chairman Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon, High Court judge Datuk Wira Kamaludin Md Said, Bursa Malaysia Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan and Malaysian Institute of Accountants member K. Pushpanathan.
The RCI panel, which has been given five terms of reference, has to complete its inquiry and submit its report to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong within three months by the scheduled date of October 13.
The five terms of reference include determining the validity of the claim that losses have been incurred by BNM due to foreign exchange dealings in the 1990s and its impact on the country’s economy; and determining whether BNM’s foreign exchange dealings which incurred losses had breached the Central Bank Ordinance 1958 or other relevant laws.