DR Mahathir Mohamad has accused Putrajaya of “discrimination” over its pursuit of Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) forex losses which occurred under his administration when the central bank had lost more between 2013 and 2015 due to the ringgit’s fall.
The former prime minister, now heading the opposition Pakatan Harapan, asked why Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration was more concerned about the forex losses of RM31.5 billion some 30 years ago, when the amount of international reserves lost in the three-year period recently was larger at US$39.6 billion or RM160 billion.
“Why did he (Najib) initiate a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to find if there was any wrongdoing in the losses of the funds which has happened 30 years ago? There is there is no proof the money was stolen.
“These funds were lost because of the forex transactions by BNM to manage the country reserves.
“I’m just astonished why there is discrimination with this issue. Maybe Najib can explain,” he said in a video posted on YouTube tonight.
Dr Mahathir also noted the money lost through forex trading was not “stolen”.
In its annual report, BNM recorded its international reserve at RM441.9 billion (US$134.91 billion) for 2013. By 2015, the reserves had dropped to RM409.1 billion (US$95.3 billion).
Last year, the central bank reported the figure at RM423.9 billion (US$94.5 billion).
In 2013, the exchange rate was RM3.27 per US dollar. It fell to RM4.44 last November, its lowest level since the Asian financial crisis. The ringgit has since rallied to close at RM4.09 on Friday.
BNM’s forex trading losses were the subject of a RCI which has recommended Dr Mahathir, former finance minister Anwar Ibrahim and former BNM adviser Nor Mohamed Yakcop be investigated for criminal breach of trust.
“For this (BNM’s reserves) loss there was no investigation or RCI and the answer given in parliament was unsatisfactory when they said it was because of the increase in American currency interests and because a lot of foreigners had pulled out their investments in Malaysia.
“This is not true. It is not because the funds were taken out by the foreign investors. The truth is RM160 billion was lost because of the management of Malaysia reserves.
“But this was not considered to be serious and didn’t warrant a RCI,” the Bersatu chairman said.
Dr Mahathir has said previously RCI was meant to tarnish him ahead of the general election next year and has questioned why the government was not pursuing more recent scandals like 1Malaysia Development Berhad with equal vigour.
In the video tonight, he again asked why there was no investigation into the RM2.6 billion that was channelled to Najib’s bank accounts.
“The Attorney General has said that there was no wrong.
“The AG has become the judge. He has also been hiding the facts.
“This is Najib’s way – that what was lost 30 years ago is given serious attention and while the RM160 billion loss more recently is not important.”