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Thursday, June 22, 2017

ARE MALAYSIANS STUPID? NO RCI ON 1MDB WHILE MONEY CAN STILL BE RECOVERED, BUT RCI ON FOREX LOSS WHERE TRAIL ALREADY STONE COLD

PUTRAJAYA’S latest Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) will determine if there was any element of criminality in the foreign exchange losses the country suffered in the late 1980s.
Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz said the RCI would also be able to determine how much was actually lost in the series of foreign exchange trade during the Dr Mahathir Mohamad administration.
“The RCI will help us determine whether there is any basis to institute legal action against those involved in these transactions, if there was any criminal element involved,” Nazri told The Malaysian Insight.
The RCI was announced by the Najib administration yesterday after it received a report from the taskforce set up to probe Bank Negara Malaysia’s currency speculation between 1989 and 1992.
The taskforce, headed by former chief secretary to the government Mohd Sidek Hassan, could not determine the actual amount Bank Negara lost as it did not have the power to subpoena witnesses, he said.
“The taskforce could only take statements from people willing to testify.
“The figures the taskforce found varied between ‘x’, ‘x plus one’, ‘x plus two’. So we need the RCI to determine how much was actually lost,” said Nazri, who is also a lawyer by training.
The Malaysian Insight’s own report on past financial scandals put the figure at RM9 billion in 1992. Others have claimed that Bank Negara lost as much as RM16 billion.
The RCI, which will likely be convened after Hari Raya, will be empowered to call any witness to testify, including former ministers, Bank Negara officials and senior civil servants.
As Putrajaya announced the forex RCI, its critics have demanded that the Najib administration also establish a similar probe on 1MDB which has been hit by financial scandals and allegations of fraud.
Nazri said unlike the forex losses, other authorities such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Bank Negara and Public Accounts Committee had investigated 1MDB.
“1MDB was a business that lost money. This is different from the forex losses. Our investigations also showed there was no criminal element involved in 1MDB.”
Money-laundering linked to 1MDB has triggered investigations in the United States, Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong, United Kingdom and Luxembourg.
The United States Justice Department (DoJ) had recently revealed its latest asset forfeiture suit aimed at recovering US$540 million allegedly stolen from 1MDB.
It is estimated that up to US$4.5 billion has been misappropriated from 1MDB, laundered through the US financial system and used to buy luxury properties, vehicles, expensive art and jewellery.
In response, Nazri said the DoJ suit was civil and not criminal in nature.
“It is a civil suit because they don’t have enough evidence to charge people with a criminal offence. That is why they took a civil action,” he said.
“If there was evidence of criminality, they would have charged people in court already.”
– https://www.themalaysianinsight.com

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