The above report in page 2 of the Sun was published on Tuesday, 20 July 2010.
The allegation highlighted apparently involves very senior officials of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) with undisputable links to their spouses. As this is a report by the Australian authority which will also ultimately lead to prosecution by Australian administrators themselves, this will become international news. Malaysia can ill-afford this kind of serious negative publicity which can be quite damaging to our reputation in the world community. As a matter of national interest, I urge the MACC to immediately conduct a more thorough investigation locally so that we can take steps to quickly salvage our reputaion should the alleged corrupt practice, as reported, is less than accurate.
Since the news broke out, the public has taken a keen interest in the matter and has been engaging in all kinds of speculations. I have even received rumours that the husband of a very high official in BNM is strongly implicated. But seriously, this cannot be. There’s too much at stake not only for the very high official in BNM but also the country, as BNM is the ultimate authority for all fiscal matters in Malaysia.
The public can speculate and rumour. But I personally don’t believe there’s any traction that the husband of the said very high official in BNM is involved. Not so soon at the tail of cases of the husband of Securities Commission Chairman being similarly highlighted recently. MACC should not drag its feet on its investigation as urged but perform its duty diligently to swiftly put an end to this issue.
The following is the full report published in the Sun …
Probe on bribe-for-currency printing contract reveals links to people high in govt hierarcy
BY R. NADESWARAN AND
PETALING JAYA: The Australian-Malaysian connection in the bribefor-contract to print the RM5 polymer notes is coming to a close. Australian prosecutors are shifting through documents, including those from Malaysia, with a view to prosecute officials of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) subsidiaries – Securency and Note Printing Australia (NPA).
Australian authorities are said to have received depositions in the form of witness statements from a Malaysian middleman who collected several millions for getting the contract to print the Malaysian currency notes.
A joint probe by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) whose officers were in the country recently, led to the businessman’s detention in Kuala Lumpur.
The focus of a high-level probe by Malaysian and Australian investigators into kickbacks received by Malaysian middlemen for securing currency printing contracts in Australia has also revealed links to spouses of senior government officials.
Australian sources said the businessman was questioned on the multi-million ringgit deal between Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the RBA to print Malaysian banknotes, including the RM5 polymer note. “From his statements we understand that several people high up the government hierarchy have been implicated, including, in one case the spouse of a senior official,” the source said.
MACC officials declined comment, saying investigations were ongoing. The AFP is due back in Malaysia soon to question more people, including BNM officials.
theSun had in April front-paged the investigation following an Australian government inquiry into Securency and NPA – which paid at least A$50 million (RM147.5 million) to middlemen from Malaysia, Vietnam, Nigeria and Paraguay to secure deals to print bank notes.
Australian media reported that Securency and NPA had negotiated with the agent, who claimed to have high-level political connections, in the late 1990s to lobby the Malaysian government and BNM officials to adopt the Australian-made polymer bank notes. The Australian companies won currency printing contracts in Malaysia for the RM50 Commonwealth Games commemorative note in 1998 and the RM5 polymer note in 2004.
In a statement on April 15, BNM denied using third parties to award the contract to NPA, saying it was BNM policy to deal directly with currency printers. “NPA appointed their own agent to market their services. At no time has Bank Negara Malaysia paid any commissions to third parties for its currency printing,” it said.
According to the Melbourne Age, the Malaysian businessman who was questioned also acted as a broker for a Pakistani air-to-surface bomb-making plant suspected of playing a key role in that country’s nuclear weapons programme. Some payments, the newspaper said, were made to accounts in offshore tax havens in Seychelles and Switzerland, contrary to Australian banking rules.
Accounting firm KPMG which audited RBA discovered that Securency paid A$47.5 million (RM140 million) in kickbacks to its network of agents between January 2003 and January last year. Two top executives at Securency have resigned since AFP began its investigations.
It is a criminal offence in Australian for companies or individuals to pay foreign officials to secure business advantages.