PUTRAJAYA: Daim Zainuddin says he was never informed of any foreign exchange (forex) trading carried out by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) while he was the finance minister.
Taking the stand today at the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the forex trading losses suffered by BNM in the 1990s, Daim said he never interfered in BNM’s operations as he was not required to.
“It was not part of my role as finance minister, as the central bank was self-governing and independent in its operations.
“That is also why I never discussed the issue of BNM’s forex trading with Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was prime minister at the time,” said Daim, who was finance minister from 1984 to 1991 and again from 1999 to 2001.
He added that he was never briefed by then BNM governor Jaafar Hussein regarding the forex trading.
Daim is the 23rd witness called by the RCI which is led by former chief secretary to the government Mohd Sidek Hassan, and also comprises High Court judge Kamaludin Md Said, Bursa Malaysia CEO Tajuddin Atan and Special Task Force on Facilitating Business co-chairman Saw Choo Boon.
Daim testified that he would only be briefed by the governor on the monthly reserves held by the central bank.
“I was never informed about any losses suffered by BNM between 1988 and 1989.
“I also never knew that BNM was active in forex trading since 1988, and that the amount traded was significant,” he said during his testimony at the RCI held at the Palace of Justice here.
Sidek doubted Daim’s testimony though, questioning how could he not know about any forex trading under the central bank.
“As the finance minister at the time, it was imperative of you to know everything and anything about BNM, what more on issues that could affect the country’s financial standing,” Sidek said, adding that it was surprising how foreign and local media knew more about the losses arising from BNM’s forex trading.
Daim repeated his testimony that he did not get any instruction nor notification about the losses due to forex trading and it was normal for BNM to be independent.
“Even though this issue is something big today, but at the time I was not aware.
“If I had known at the time, I would surely have called for a probe into the matter.
“I also was not aware about the total losses by BNM amounting to RM772.3 million in 1988 and RM2.259 billion in 1989, resulting from its forex trading.”