'Plenty of opportunities to exploit Bank Negara forex trading desk in 1990s'
By LIDIANA ROSLI and RAHMAT KHAIRULRIJAL - September 7, 2017 @ 10:43am
PUTRAJAYA: There were plenty of opportunities to exploit the foreign exchange (forex) trading desk of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) for oneâs own personal gain, back in the 1990s.
This was possible because there was no system of âcheck and balanceâ between the years of 1990 to 1994, according to BNMâs current forex department manager, Azman Mat Ali.
âI started working in BNM in 1988 as a dealer at the forex desk. I held this role for 10 years until 1998. I was then transferred to other various roles within the bank, before returning to the forex department as a manager in 2016,â he told the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on BNM's forex losses in the 1990s, this morning.
âI reported directly to three different Chief Dealers in the forex department between 1 988 to 1998, and also at times, directly to (then BNM advisor) Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop.â
Azman explained that all BNM's forex transactions then were done manually, and thus, there was no system of âcheck and balanceâ, at least within the years of 1990 to 1994.
âIn my opinion, there were opportunities to exploit this (lack of âcheck and balanceâ) by any individuals within the bank who have the know-how,â said Azman, 54.
âIt is also in my opinion, that there were opportunities for any individuals within the bank to make profit from insider information (of BNM) to trade with other parties.â
Azman also said there were no specific maximum limits for forex trading on any given day or month, or the highest limit he had traded traded himself.
He recalled that the amount had reached billions of US dollars at certain times.
This prompted a question from RCI member, Datuk Wira Kamaludin Md Said.
âYou said that you deal up to billions of US dollars a day. Do you have an estimation of how much exactly?"
âNo, I do not remember the specific amount,â replied Azman.
Following that line of questioning, RCI chairman Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan asked; âWould it be over (something like) US$1 billion?â
After a pause, Azman said; âYes, most likely.â
Azman also had no comments on the statement made by former assistant governor, Datuk Murad Abdul Khalid about the forex trading losses amounting to some RM31 billion between 1990 to 1994.
âI might have roughly known that we were making losses, but I didn't know the losses in its totality as I was only a forex dealer following the directions of my superiors.â
The RCI has been tasked with identifying the cause of BNMâs forex losses, amounting to some RM31 billion.
Other RCI panel members are; Bursa Malaysia Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan; Special Task For ce to Facilitate Business (Pemudah) co-chairman Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon; Malaysian Institute of Accountants member K. Pushpanathan; and the Finance Ministry's Strategic Investment Division director Datuk Dr Yusof Ismail, who is also the Commission's secretary.
Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V gave the RCI until Oct 13 to complete its proceedings and submit a report. - Additional reporting by HANA NAZ HARUN145 readsSource: Google News