I am not sure what Bank Negara officers are doing in the task force to investigate The Wall Street Journal’s expose that US$700m allegedly landed in Najib’s bank accounts.
In the first place, Bank Negara is an interested party in the sense that AmBank Islamic should have flagged the deposit in the account for the account holder to declare to Bank Negara what the deposits were for. Usually, anything above RM50000 warrants such a declaration.
Given the large amounts deposited in this case, were such declarations made and did Bank Negara request further clarification or conduct probes? After all, it is not everyday that more than RM2bn is deposited into a personal account.
Moreover, if Najib was really the account holder, then he should have been regarded as a politically exposed person by the banking system. This would warrant additional disclosures to the compliance division of Bank Negara as to the nature of any large deposits and any subsequent large or unusual withdrawals from the accounts within a short period of time. (And were the MACC and income tax departments alerted?)
Bank Negara itself has some serious explaining to do and evidence to provide.
Under the circumstances, how can Bank Negara be part of the task force? Moreover, the other departments (MACC, Attorney General, police) in the task force are represented by people who are ultimately answerable to the prime minister, who is also the finance minister, in one way or another.
So how independent is this task force?
Let’s get this straight: whether the money is for personal use or otherwise is not the issue (though of course Malaysians especially want to know if the money in the accounts was used for pre-election spending – for that has huge implications for the validity of the 2013 general election).
The key question is, how and why was over RM2bn deposited into these personal accounts in the first place?
Najib has not denied that the money was received into his accounts. That itself is telling. Is it normal or proper for a prime minister to receive such amounts, whatever the source or whatever the use?
We also want to know where the money came from. Public or private sources? Why were they channelled via intermediary companies before landing up in AmBank Islamic?
Can we trust this task force to give us the answers to these burning questions?