KUALA LUMPUR — September 6, 2017: A former senior officer with the Attorney-General’s Chambers today told a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) that the central bank’s way of interpreting the law was not fully accepted by the AGC.
She said this in reference to a letter from Bank Negara Malaysia titled Foreign Exchange Transactions by Bank Negara Malaysia dated February 9, 1990, and signed by then adviser of its banking department, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop.
Following this, the then head of advisory services at the Attorney General’s Chambers, Tan Sri Ainum Mohamed Saaid, wrote to the bank’s governor and auditor-general in February 1990 to advise on how to interpret the law on forex trading.
She said the content of the letter, which was duly discussed with then Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman, also contained advice for the issue on whether the forex trading by BNM breached provisions in the Central Bank of Malaysia Ordinance to be decided by the National Audit Department and BNM.
Ainum, in reading her witness statement, also said the AGC was only responsible for interpreting the law but it could not provide advice on BNM’s financial activities as it did not have the expertise.
“The Attorney-General’s Chambers has no obligation to provide answers and guidance on questions concerning legal issues that were raised by the Auditor-General, instead it can only offer legal advice.
“But in the issue raised by the Auditor-General, it required specialist, expert knowledge on finance which we don’t have and neither the Attorney-General Chambers is authorised to decide on this financial matters,” she said during the proceedings of the RCI to investigate forex losses by Bank Negara at the Palace of Justice.
Ainum told the inquiry she knew that the former Assistant Auditor-General P. Kanason and had discussed with him on BNM’s forex trading.
However, she could not remember the words during her telephone conversation with Kanason on “orang atasan cakap jangan masuk campur” (people higher up say not to interfere).
“As far as I can remember I did tell him (Kanason) that the AGC would give a written advice,” she said.
The inquiry is chaired by Petronas chairman Tan Sri Mohd. Sidek Hassan, who’s assisted by High Court judge Datuk Kamaludin Md. Said, Bursa Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan, Special Task Force to Facilitate Business (Pemudah) co-chairman Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon and Malaysian Institute of Accountants member, K. Puspanathan. – Bernama