CIMB Board’s clearing of Nazir disappointing, says Aliran man

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KUALA LUMPUR: The act of the CIMB Board, which cleared its chairman Nazir Razak of any wrong doing in the disbursement of funds before the 2013 General Election, makes ethics look cheap, according to Aliran member K Haridas.

He said: “We ordinary people, must be so stupid for CIMB to assume that we will accept the statement that Nazir Razak did not misuse his position with regard to the USD7 million that he confirmed receiving from his brother.”

Nazir, Prime Minister Najib Razak’s brother, had admitted earlier that he had received USD7 million in funds that was transferred to his personal bank account from Najib’s before the country’s 2013 elections. This money was then disbursed by CIMB staff to ruling-party politicians according to instructions from Umno leaders, he had told the Wall Street Journal.

Following the revelations by the WSJ, Nazir went on voluntary leave to allow CIMB to probe his action.

CIMB carried out a review and, in a statement earlier this month, said that Nazir “did not misuse his position as the Group Chief Executive at that time nor was there any inappropriate use of the bank’s resources”.

“However, the detailed examinations conducted during the review identified some process shortcomings, and the boards have instructed the management to put in place plans for immediate improvements as well as strengthened internal rules and processes to avoid re-occurrences moving forward.”

Haridas, who is chairman of the Business Ethics Insitute of Malaysia, said: “To live by ethics is to be clear about the boundaries in one’s life and actions; to understand the negotiables and the non-negotiables; and to walk the talk. It is not about perfection but it definitely is about change and realisation.

“When you realise that you have made a mistake, ethics calls for admission and the need to put things right, pay the price for the same, and take total responsibility – all of which are in the finest traditions of practising good ethics. It is about being a congruent person.

“Actions like that of the CIMB Board makes ethics look cheap. The cost is heavy especially when people at the top are treated differently from ordinary employees. This breeds cynicism and strengthens the default culture.”

He said the CIMB board would lose credibility within the organisation for the way it handled the issue, adding that if an ordinary staff had done something similar, he would have been given the option to resign or face a disciplinary inquiry board where charges would be preferred.

He said it was sad to see the name of former Prime Minister Razak Hussein being scarred by the actions of some of his family members. He said Najib’s credibility, for instance, had been badly damaged due to the 1MDB and related issues.

“I thought Nazir would save the side, but this has disappointed me greatly.”

On the statement by Nazir that he understood the furore over the issue and that on hindsight, he wished he had not done what he did, Haridas said: “No excuses, Nazir; you are the chairman, and the sooner you take a walk, the better it would be for the bank, your colleagues and the high standards that CIMB stands for. Redeem what little is left of your credibility.”