PUTRAJAYA – Former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin today said he was not informed and was not aware of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM)’s massive foreign exchange (forex) losses of the 1990s.
In his written statement and later cross examined by Conducting Officer, Datuk Suhaimi Ibrahim; Daim insisted that BNM was given the full mandate to act independently without the supervision of the Finance Ministry.
Daim said he was briefed by former Bank Negara governor, the late-Tan Sri Jaffar Hussein in limited capacity and that certain documents were not made available to him as they were protected by BNM’s Official Secrets Act.
This confounded the members of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) panel.
RCI chairman Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan said: “Tun Daim, you must forgive me when I say that your admission made me confused…because you said that you, the finance minister was not aware at all of the forex losses when it was in the Central Bank Ordinance (CBO), Section 34 which states that that ‘The (BNM) Board shall inform the ministry of its undertakings’…and yet, you said the bank didn’t.”
“Tun (Daim), this is very curious as all the witnesses that came before you, from department secretaries to the Auditor General (AG) Office seem to know of the losses in some capacity or other and yet, you the finance minister said you didn’t.”
Sidek then drew on the testimony of former Director and Assistant General Auditor for all Federal and State Statutory Bodies at the AG’s Office, P. Kanosan A/L Pothinker who testified at RCI on Aug 28.
Kanosan had stated that he had, sometimes in early 1990s, come upon BNM’s aggressive forex trading stance through media reports and “market talk”.
Kanosan had decided to pursue the issue by sending two letters to BNM, as well as making a follow-up phone call to then-Auditor General Tan Sri Ainum Mohd Said.
Sidek said: “Kanosan who was third in line at the AG Office and yet he pursued it because he believes that something curious was happening…and yet, you didn’t.
“Why was that?,” Sidek asked Daim.
Daim maintained that he did not act on it because he wasn’t aware, wasn’t notified and didn’t hear any ‘market talk’. – NST