“The discussions involved obtaining a letter of undertaking from the government to provide BNM assistance over its losses”
PUTRAJAYA: The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to investigate the losses of foreign exchange (forex) by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) was told of a proposal in a discussion among the Finance Ministry, BNM and the Auditor-General was to transfer 80 million Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) shares to BNM.
Former finance ministry finance division deputy secretary Datuk Othman Jusoh said the proposal was raised in the discussion on Nov 21, 1994 to assist BNM cover its RM2.68 billion losses in forex trading.
Othman, 69, who began his service at the finance ministry in February 1972 as assistant secretary and was the 22nd witness at the proceeding, said the discussion was also attended by BNM assistant governor Datuk Abdul Murad Khalid.
He said the proposal was raised in the discussion even though he did not know who made the decision to transfer the shares quietly to BNM.
“The discussions involved obtaining a letter of undertaking from the government to provide BNM assistance over its losses,” he said when replying to a question from Conducting Officer Muhammad Saifuddin Hashim Musaimi at the proceeding in the Palace of Justice today.
Replying to Muhammad Saifuddin on whether it was normal for the proposal at the meeting to be minuted but not stated of its status, Othman said it depended on the type of case discussed.
“I do not know in detail, it was stated there were losses, in my opinion BNM knew the amount. It was a general discussion, and I was a junior officer then, and did not ask about the total,” he said.
Based on the statement, Othman agreed with the suggestion of Bursa Malaysia Berhad Chief Executive Officer Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan, who is a member of the RCI that the meeting in November 1994 between the finance ministry with BNM and the Audit Department was held for the first time.
“So, the parties which should know about the losses had been informed on the matter and there were discussions between BNM and the Auditor-General as well as related parties,” he said.
Tajuddin also proposed the transfer of shares was the first time BNM had sought assistance to cover the losses as well as obtain an undertaking letter, while the witness (Othman) could not reply to the RCI panel’s question as the matter was discussed at higher levels.
The public proceeding was chaired by Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, who is also Petronas chairman, assisted by High Court Judge Datuk Kamaludin Md Said, Tajuddin, Special Task Force to Facilitate Business (PEMUDAH) co-chairman Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon and Malaysian Institute of Accountants member K. Puspanathan.