World

Anwar accused of hiding actual forex losses by Malaysia's central bank

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia's former finance minister Anwar Ibrahim was yesterday accused of hiding from the Cabinet the true extent of foreign exchange losses by the central bank in the 1990s, in heated testimony at a government-backed inquiry.

The accusation was made by the chairman of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) Mohd Sidek Hassan as Anwar, now an opposition leader and serving jail time for sodomy, made an appearance at the probe.

"You knew it. You knew it. And you chose not to disclose it," Mr Sidek said.

Anwar said: "Don't politicise this."

Mr Sidek, basing his accusation on past minutes of meetings, said the Cabinet was informed by Anwar that the losses totalled RM5.7 billion (S$7.6 billion now) in 1993.

Anwar said the figure that he told the Cabinet, led then by prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, was based on discussions with Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM).

Dr Mahathir attended the inquiry yesterday as Anwar was giving his testimony.

The RCI was formed on July 1 to uncover facts behind massive losses notched by BNM in its aggressive forex trading more than two decades ago.

BNM between 1988 and 1994 took up huge positions in the international forex market.

The commission determined in its first sitting that the total loss was RM31.5 billion.

Former central bank governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz on Wednesday said she found out in 2007 that BNM had lost RM32 billion during the episode.

Prior to the RCI's formation, the total sum reported by BNM on forex losses between 1991 to 1993 was RM9.3 billion.

When Mr Sidek accused Anwar of not informing Cabinet of the actual losses, Anwar said it was unfair to accuse him of misleading it.- THE STRAITS TIMES

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