Sunday, June 25, 2017

Zeti Akhtar Aziz: Irresponsible, ineffectual and impotent

Bank Negara Malaysia was powerless – unable to take further action than just some fines to “relevant bodies and financial institutions” over breach of regulations in relation to the 1MDB case.
 
This was the admission by former Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz (left), who added that the handling of the 1MDB case was one of her (supposedly) toughest moments in office, Sin Chew Daily reported.
 
Still, she boasted that Bank Negara has the most comprehensive laws, including the Central Bank of Malaysia Act 2009 and Financial Services Act 2013 to preserve the integrity, stability and healthy functioning of the financial system.
 
“So, we could issue letters of administrative compound to relevant bodies and financial institutions breaching Bank Negara’s regulations in the 1MDB case. I would say the fines were probably the highest in history”, she told the Chinese vernacular daily, explaining how the whole matter was settled with the fine being paid.
 
In March last year, BNM had said it would initiate “appropriate action” against 1MDB for failing to produce evidence it had used the allocated $1.83 billion for debt management and restructuring exercises overseas. 1MDB had initially cited these two reasons when asked why the money had not been repatriated to Malaysian shores.
 
BNM then fined 1MDB on April 28, giving the state-owned investment fund a May 30 deadline to settle the fine. 1MDB paid the fine on May 25, and with that, new BNM governor Muhammad Ibrahim said the central bank’s investigations into 1MDB had concluded.
 
The fine was one of the last actions by Zeti before she retired on April 30 last year, with deputy governor Muhammad Ibrahim taking over the next day.
 
She added that the primary objective of BNM in dealing with the 1MDB case was to ensure the integrity of the country’s financial system. And yet, in the same breath, she uttered that flaccid excuse that she did not have the power to prosecute.
 
On a related note, prior to the 1MDB probe, the central bank had already acted against AmBank, issuing a fine of RM53.7 million for breaching anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorism finance obligations in relation to “politically exposed persons” – and of course, we know these were linked to the 1MDB scandal.
 
As far as I am concerned, Zeti had failed to do her job. She was irresponsible, ineffectual and impotent.

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