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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bank Islam defends move to suspend chief economist


KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd has come out strongly to defend its recent move to suspend its chief economist pending the outcome of an internal inquiry for alleged “serious breaches of discipline”.
“In this country, people are free to make all kinds of predictions on the election. After all, they are mere personal opinions that don’t in anyway affect financial institutions like us.
“But in our internal investigation following Azrul Azwar Ahmad Tajuddin’s remarks made at a regional forum in Singapore, we discovered evidence of violations of the bank’s internal policies. These were listed out in detail in a show-cause letter handed to him,” the source told Bernama.
In the bank’s view, the breaches were so serious that warranted it to lodge a report with the commercial crime division of the police, he added.
The source said Bank Islam’s rules on its officers invited to public forums were clear. 
“They have to seek approval from the management to participate in the forum and have their presentation vetted.
“Azrul did not do all these. He went to Singapore completely without our knowledge and on the bank’s time,” he added.
Further internal investigations by the bank also revealed that Azrul had, in recent months, sent out series of e-mails relating to the bank’s official documents from his office to third parties, including highly confidential minutes of Bank Islam’s board meeting.
“He is not a board member of the bank and is not supposed to be in possession of those minutes.
“We discovered from the bank’s computer server that other confidential bank matters were forwarded to outsiders.
“These are very serious breaches of office policies and discipline that left us with no choice but to act firmly,” he said.
Asked to comment on the half-page advertorial taken out by non-governmental organisations and activitists in a newspaper on February 14 to voice their support for the beleaguered bank executive, the source said: “To be fair to us, these people should have read the attachments we included to his show-cause letter where we listed out in great detail serious breaches which, in our view, warrant our action.”
“I would urge all of them to read the show-cause letter and these attachments before jumping to conclusions,” he said of the advertorial.
“We are doing whatever it takes to protect the bank’s interest. What we are doing is no different from what any other institution would do in similar circumstances. And, I’m confident our customers are behind us in this,” he said.
He said Azrul was due to appear before the bank’s disciplinary board in March to defend himself based on the show-cause letter. — Bernama

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