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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Zeti: a case of the tail wagging the dog

In short, also, the AG is calling Zeti an idiot and if I were called an idiot I would resign with immediate affect. I mean the AG is putting full blame on Zeti and is saying that BNM was probably sleeping or does not know what it is doing. Or maybe Zeti thinks that the tail can still wag the dog like in the days of Ismail Ali.

Tun Ismail Mohamed Ali, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s brother-in-law, was the Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) from 1962 till 1980. Under his leadership he made sure that BNM told the government what to do and not the other way around.

Basically it was a case of the tail wagging the dog and not the dog wagging the tail — BNM being the tail, of course, and not the dog. But then that was because of the nature of the beast. Ismail Ali was…well…you know what I mean. It was like having Adolf Hitler as the number two of Nazi Germany rather than having him as the Fuhrer. Can you imagine what it would have been like?

In 1980, Abdul Aziz Taha took over as Governor and one year later Dr Mahathir became Prime Minister — which was good because you cannot have two tigers on the same mountain and if Ismail Ali were still the Governor all hell would have broken loose.

But BNM for almost 20 years had developed a certain culture of ‘independence’ and the first thing that Dr Mahathir did when he took over was to demolish this culture by making sure that BNM understood that the bank came under the government and not the government that comes under the bank.

So, from then on, the government or the Cabinet would tell BNM what to do and not the bank that tells the government what to do. And this is probably one thing that Zeti Akhtar Aziz forgot. She and her bank take directions from the Cabinet and not the other way around.

In June 2015, the Cabinet made a decision based on the presentation of 1MDB’s plan for rationalisation and debt-reduction, basically 1MDB’s restructuring program.

BNM may have made certain decisions in 2009-2011. However, events in 2009-2011 have been overtaken by events in June 2015. Whatever the Cabinet decided in June 2015 has superseded whatever BNM may have decided in 2009-2011. The final decision and authority lies with the Cabinet. It tells BNM what to do.

This is the gist to the whole matter. Zeti, however, cannot seem to accept the fact that she is the tail and not the dog. And the dog wags the tail and not the tail that wags the dog. And this is the reality of the situation and if she feels that she is the one with the power and authority and if she feels that the Cabinet has usurped her power and authority then she can always protest and demonstrate her displeasure by resigning, like what Zaid Ibrahim did in 2008.

And it is the Attorney General or the Attorney General’s Chambers that has the final authority to decide whether a crime has been committed and whether a case needs to be brought to court and the alleged criminal charged. This, again, is not the power and authority of the BNM Governor.

Anyway, today the AG has explained the whole issue as to why the AGC is of the view that no crime has been committed, which was why they did not take action against 1MDB or the people in 1MDB. You can read the full statement below, which is self-explanatory.

The salient points are as follows in case you find the statement too much for your mind to absorb:

1. Exchange control forms, 09A and 06B, do not require the applicant to supply the names of beneficiary owners or the bank account numbers of recipients or the manner as to how the funds are to be channelled.

2. When 1MDB requested Deutsche Bank (Malaysia) Berhad to remit to a different account, the bank sought clearance from Bank Negara.

3. Bank Negara, being the controller, did not stop the remittance or direct Deutsche Bank (Malaysia) Berhad to advise 1MDB to revert to Bank Negara for a review of the permission.

4. And Bank Negara did not request further information from 1MDB at that material time.

That is the long and short of it all so opposition-owned Malaysiakini was not quite correct in what it reported. But then this was probably intentional and not accidental and for obvious reasons.

In short, also, the AG is calling Zeti an idiot and if I were called an idiot I would resign with immediate affect. I mean the AG is putting full blame on Zeti and is saying that BNM was probably sleeping or does not know what it is doing. Or maybe Zeti thinks that the tail can still wag the dog like in the days of Ismail Ali.

***************************************

The alleged offence investigated into by Bank Negara Malaysia is paragraph (4)(b) of Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule to the Exchange Control Act 1953 namely, knowingly or recklessly making a statement which is false in a material particular. In short the statement made must be false and material to the subject matter i.e. the information requested by Bank Negara Malaysia at the time when the application/s for remittances were sought for and in response to further information requested by Bank Negara Malaysia.

1MDB obtained three permissions from Bank Negara Malaysia to make remittances, namely on,

(1)            29 September 2009,

(2)            6 September 2010, and

(3)            20 May 2011.

It is noted that Bank Negara Malaysia did not take more than three days to grant the said permissions on all three occasions.

It is further noted that the relevant ECM forms namely 09A and 06B do not require the applicant to supply the name/s of beneficiary owner or the bank/s accounts numbers of the recipient/s or the manner as to how the funds to be channelled.

When 1MDB requested Deutsche Bank (Malaysia) Berhad to remit to a different account, Deutsche Bank (Malaysia) Berhad sought clarification from Bank Negara Malaysia and Bank Negara Malaysia responded by advising Deutsche Bank (Malaysia) Berhad that it being a business decision and as long as there was no deviation from the purpose intended and no further query was made by Bank Negara Malaysia at that particular time.

Bank Negara Malaysia being the controller did not stop the remittance or direct Deutsche Bank (Malaysia) Berhad to advise 1MDB to revert to Bank Negara Malaysia for a review of the permission. Clearly there was no information or further information requested by Bank Negara Malaysia at that material time. 1MBD rightfully furnished the information required for the purpose of the remittance.

The relevant forms for remittance in this case did not require the applicant to state the bank account number and the beneficiary of the same as in ordinary remittances which would enable Bank Negara Malaysia to go one step further to verify where the funds will end up to. Since there is no requirement, the omission on 1MDB officials’ part to disclose is not an offence under the Act.

As far as 1MDB is concerned it needs to fill up the relevant form and responds to the queries by Bank Negara Malaysia. If Bank Negara Malaysia does not request for certain or specific information how could 1MDB be faulted as it has filled up the form as required and responded to the queries made?

The officials of 1MDB at all material times i.e. during the process of obtaining the permissions had complied with the directions given, hence the permissions/approvals granted. Until and unless it can be shown that the officials had deliberately or knew or even recklessly provided information that were false in material particulars, they had committed no offence under this Act.

The Bank Negara Malaysia however vide a letter dated 1 October 2015 requested for a review of the decision citing omission on the part of 1MDB i.e. non-disclosure of certain information. As far as omission is concerned, there is no obligation to inform unless requested. In this respect and the fact that there is no new evidence made available, we do not see the necessity to review.

Raja Petra Kamarudin

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