PETALING JAYA: The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) report on forex losses suffered by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) lacks clear evidence as the probe was held some 25 years after the event, say Anwar Ibrahim’s lawyers.
Gurdial Singh Nijar and R Sivarasa said two key players who could have shed light on the issue and who were referred to in almost every other page of the voluminous report were the then-governor of BNM and the auditor-general.
“Neither of them testified,” they said.
They were referring to former BNM governor Jaffar Hussein, who held office from 1986 to 1994 but resigned after taking responsibility for the losses. He died in 1998.
The other personality is former auditor-general Ishak Tadin, who was in office from 1986 to 1994. However, he was unable to testify due to memory loss.
The lawyers added that the calls for Anwar, who was finance minister from 1991 to 1998, to be investigated under Section 417 or 418 of the Penal Code were misconceived.
“They are based on the wrong facts. The commission concluded that Anwar deceived the cabinet as he made key decisions.”
However, Anwar had played no role in the buying and selling of shares as the decision had been made by the BNM governor, they said.
They added that Anwar had not personally issued any letter of guarantee, but only followed Treasury procedures and advice.
Gurdial and Sivarasa, who represented Anwar in the RCI proceeding, said it was also wrong to conclude that their client had a dishonest or fraudulent intention to deceive the cabinet.
“The commission did not evaluate the evidence by Anwar, who explained at length why he presented the 1993 audited annual report to the cabinet and Parliament,” they said.
They added that the annual report had been signed off by the then-auditor-general and BNM governor.
They said Anwar had been alerted to the dispute between the governor and the auditor-general on how to reflect the losses in the report.
He asked the parties to resolve the dispute, which they did, as reflected in the annual report, they added.
According to them, Dr Mahathir Mohamad who was prime minister at the time had told the commission that the standard practice was to present an audited report to the cabinet.
“At worst, the presentation of this audited outcome to the cabinet was a judgment call. How then could it be a deception of the cabinet leading to a criminal charge of cheating?” they asked.
The lawyers said Anwar had not deceived Parliament as he had presented the audited annual report to the legislature.
They added that their client could not be implicated for cheating as Anwar had not induced anyone to do something fraudulently or dishonestly.
The RCI convened for eight days from Aug 21 and concluded on Sept 19 after calling 25 witnesses.
Forty-two documents were submitted during the proceedings.
Among the witnesses were Mahathir, Anwar, former BNM governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, former BNM adviser Nor Mohamed Yakcop and former finance minister Daim Zainuddin.
The report was submitted to the king on Oct 13.