PUTRAJAYA — Sept. 18, 2017: Former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin today told an inquiry that he was not aware of losses or a profit by Bank Negara (BNM) from forex activities from 1988 to 1990.
Daim, who held the post from July 1984 to March 1990, also claimed that this was the first time he knew about it as he was not briefed by the Treasury on the operations and transactions of the central bank during his tenure.
“Nobody in BNM informed me on forex transactions from 1984 to 1990,” he said, and clarified that he did not ask the Treasury secretary-general on the BNM board meetings as the board was responsible for the bank’s operations and policies.
Daim, who was the 23rd witness in the Royal Commission of Inquiry;s haerings into forex losses by Bank Negara, said all this in a statement he read.
Apart from that, when answering a question from conducting officer Datuk Suhaimi Ibrahim, Daim replied that if he had been aware of the transactions, he would not have allowed the central bank to incur such losses.
RCI chairman Tan Sri Mohd. Sidek Hassan then asked Daim how he as the finance minister could he not take responsibility when the Central Bank of Malaysia Ordinance 1958 says it is mandatory that the finance minister should be informed of the operations of the central bank.
“It is surprising that the third person in the Auditor-General Department knew of the matter and took action to seek further information. But in your case, you did not know and did not take an interest to know?” asked Sidek.
Daim said that although BNM was part of the government, the organisation was free in terms of operations, as the board was responsible for its operations.
“As finance minister, I do not have any obligations to monitor the operations/proceedings of BNM as it was free from control,” he said.
Dalim also insisted that he was not aware the bank was actively involved in forex trading in 1988 and he was not told of the losses from forex trading in 1988 and 1989.
“I cannot answer the question whether the trading conducted by BNM in the years concerned was to stabilise the ringgit or to trade for profit,” he replied, and clarified that he also did not know if there were changes to BNM policies on forex trading starting in 1988.
Daim claimed not to know who was responsible for implementing forex trading at BNM and had no knowledge of a letter from the auditor-general in 1990 addressed to the attorney-general.
Apart from that, he said the then Bank Negara governor, Tan Sri Jaffar Hussein, briefed him every year before the tabling of the budget in Parliament on the country’s domestic and foreign economic outlook as well as BNM’s proposals for consideration.
“I did not brief the prime minister and the cabinet on the operations of BNM; the cabinet only receives an audited BNM annual financial statement,” he said. — Bernama