Police reports on Bank Negara’s losses a waste of time, says BN

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PETALING JAYA: The Barisan Nasional (BN) strategic communications team has described police reports lodged by PPBM members against Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) alleged RM160 billion losses as a complete waste of time.

Its deputy director Eric See-To said this was because the public would know that the allegation, initially made by PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was “ridiculous”.

“I really pity these PPBM members having to stand up for their boss in the face of such a ridiculous allegation.

“Anybody with any rational thinking will know that if it was true that such a staggering amount was lost by BNM due to wrongdoing, this will be big international news.

“The World Bank, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the major credit rating agencies would have long raised this. But there was no such thing,” he told FMT.

Selangor PPBM yesterday lodged a police report calling for investigations into the RM160 billion that it claimed went “missing” from BNM’s international reserves between 2013 and 2015.

Its chairman Abdul Rashid Asari said the missing funds must be investigated to ensure there was no abuse of power or irregularities in the management of the reserves.

“We discovered during our check that since 2009, the highest international reserves achieved by BNM was on Jan 31, 2013, when they reached RM588.8 billion.

“However, the amount fell drastically to RM427.98 billion by Nov 30, 2017. That is a drop of RM160.86 billion,” he had said.

See-To, however, said the allegation was merely an extension of Mahathir’s “uncharacteristically extreme reaction” to the Royal Commission of Inquiry’s (RCI) report on BNM forex trading losses in the 1990s.

In its findings, the RCI stated that Mahathir, who was prime minister at the time, had helped in “deliberately concealing” the losses which amounted to RM31.5 billion.

According to See-To, the “illegal gambling” by BNM in the 1990s shouldn’t even be compared with the alleged losses the central bank made in the 2013-2015 period, while doing its job.

“As the second finance minister had clarified, the reduction in our forex reserves between 2013 and 2016 was due to currency outflows from Malaysia by investors.

“(These investors) wanted to take advantage of the recovery of the US economy and the increase in their interest rates. This reduction was a result of BNM doing its job, not gambling like during the early 1990s.”

He said when Prime Minister Najib Razak came to power in 2009, BNM reserves stood at US$87 billion.

“It went up to US$155 billion in August 2011 due to massive inflow of foreign money into Malaysia when the US was suffering from the great recession at that time.

“These flows then reversed, and BNM reserves at end of November 2017 stood at US$101.9 billion.”

He also corrected Mahathir and PPBM members, saying BNM had made significant profits, not losses, for every year from 2013 to 2016.

“RM5.5 billion in 2013, RM6.4 billion in 2014, RM7.8 billion in 2015, and RM6.5 billion in 2016,” he said.

Hence, he added, by lodging the reports, PPBM members had only succeeded in wasting their time, as the losses they mentioned in their claim had never actually occurred.