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Apr 24, 2008

Malaysia’s Exim Bank: A Morass of Bad Loans

asiasentinel - Bank Negara sits on a report that a government-owned bank has lost millions on loans to politicians and royalty

An explosive auditor’s report on the government-owned Malaysia Export-Import Bank that details tens of millions of dollars in politically tinged nonperforming loans and possible illegalities has been hidden away in a central bank file for more than four years without being acted upon.

The report, by auditors from Bank Negara Malaysia, the country’s central bank, probes borrowers closely tied to the United Malays National Organisation, the leading party in the country’s ruling coalition, as well as companies tied to the Sultan of Terengganu, the current Malaysian king. The report into the bank’s lending activities details inadequate risk management on projects amounting to RM116 million (US$37 million).

A copy of the report was submitted to Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Agency in February by Norhayati Abdullah, a former bank employee who was fired after 12 years, allegedly for taking kickbacks from an advertising firm. She denied the charges and said she was being made a skapegoat for corruptin inside the bank. She was joined in going to the ACA by disgruntled Exim bank officials in alleging that top management were involved in taking kickbacks and other malpractices. Senior bank managers were said to have illicitly purchased luxury cars while also receiving millions of ringit in cash. The whistleblowers also submitted documents claiming that bank managers enjoyed protection from powerful politicians, which gave them a free rein to do as they please.

Despite repeated requests for comment, Bank Negara officials have refused comment on why the report was never acted upon. One official acknowledged the existence of the report and then passed the question on to another official who didn’t call back. While an Anti-Corruption Agency spokesman said that the case is being investigated, there seems little evidence that the agency has spoken to any of the complaining witnesses about the allegations. Under Malaysia’s Prevention of Corruption Act, public officials must declare their assets and are required to account for the source of any unexplained cash that doesn’t appear to be earned at their salary levels. more...

Read also .... Spin machine spinning out of control (Corridors of power)


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