KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 — Lawyers for former finance minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim contested today a royal panel’s claim that their client had deceived the Cabinet on the central bank’s foreign exchange losses in the 1990s.
Anwar’s lawyers said the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) did not evaluate the current PKR de facto leader’s evidence in that regard.
“The offence of cheating requires inducing someone to do something fraudulently and dishonestly. There was no evidence of fraudulent or dishonest conduct alleged or proved,” Gurdial Singh Nijar and Sivarasa Rasiah said in a statement.
In its report tabled in Parliament today, the RCI said a criminal investigation of Anwar was necessary as he had allegedly concealed facts about the central bank’s losses then, and suggested that investigators apply Sections 417 and 418 of the Penal Code that pertain to cheating.
Anwar’s lawyers pointed out that Anwar had explained at length why he presented a Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) audited annual report to the Cabinet and to Parliament that had been signed off by the Auditor General and the BNM governor.
“Before then DS 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,” said the lawyers.
According to the lawyers, Anwar had testified that he could not use the information in the Auditor General’s draft criticism and had to use the audited report that was cleared by the Auditor General.
“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? It was never called into question by any Cabinet member,” they said.
“Additionally, Parliament must be presented the audited annual report. This is precisely what DS Anwar did. How could this be deceiving Parliament?”
The lawyers also said the forex RCI’s conclusion that Anwar had deceived the Cabinet was based on “wrong facts”, claiming that Anwar did not decide on the accounting treatment of profit and loss.
“The evidence shows that the decision was made by Bank Negara Board and executed by professional accountants under the supervision of the Governor of Bank Negara,” they said.
They also said Anwar did not make decisions on the buying and selling of shares, insisting that they were made by the BNM governor.
“The Deputy Manager of the Jabatan Bank at the relevant time testified that the forex trading (that is the buying and selling of shares) was decided by Jabatan Bank.
“Third, the letter of guarantee was issued under the normal processes of the treasury based upon the usual treasury procedures and advice,” said Anwar’s lawyers.
The RCI found that BNM had incurred forex losses of RM31.5 billion in the early 1990s under the Mahathir administration. Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad now leads federal Opposition pact Pakatan Harapan.