Malaysia Central Bank’s New Governor Had Resigned After Investigating 1MDB

Hadi Azmi
Kuala Lumpur
180622-MY-bank-620.jpg New Central Bank Governor Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus (left), walks with Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng after a ministry meeting in Putrajaya, Malaysia, June 22, 2018.
S. Mahfuz/BenarNews

A longtime official of Malaysia’s central bank who had investigated the 1MDB scandal until she resigned in 2016 has been named its new governor, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said Friday.

Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus, 54, joined Bank Negara Malaysia in 1987 and served as its deputy governor from 2010 until November 2016. After leaving, she was assistant director of the monetary and capital markets division at the International Monetary Fund.

“Bank Negara Malaysia will continue to focus on delivering its mandates of maintaining monetary and financial stability in the best interest of the nation,” Shamsiah told reporters Friday at a joint press conference with Eng.

Lim announced that Shamsiah’s five-year appointment would begin on July 1.

During her tenure at the bank, Shamsiah was primarily responsible for the health of the banking sector, financial intelligence, and enforcement, the Finance Ministry said, and she was involved in helping the financial sector recover from the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s.

She also assisted with a 1MDB investigation under former central bank governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, who retired in April 2016.

“She is experienced and she will hit the ground running,” the Malay Mail quoted Zeti as saying of Shamsiah.

“By appointing her, the government has demonstrated its respect for the institution, and I think this is what the market wants to see, an institution that remains independent in performing its function,” Zeti said.

Shamsiah’s 2016 resignation fueled speculation of conflict with former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration over her work investigating 1MDB, according to Bloomberg News. Najib, who has denied any role in the 1MDB scandal, also served as finance minister.

U.S. Department of Justice officials have described 1MDB as “the worst kleptocracy scandal in recent times,” saying that more than $4.5 billion (17.9 billion ringgit) was stolen from the fund from its founding by Najib in 2009 until its advisory board was dissolved in 2016.

Changing the Lineup

Shamsiah replaces central bank governor Muhammad Ibrahim, who resigned on June 6, saying he had lost the public’s trust after it emerged that $520 million raised through a land sale by the central bank had been used to pay off some of 1MDB’s debts.

Muhammad insisted the central bank was not involved in the 1MDB scandal.

“BNM will never be party to any such activities that would betray the public trust in us. We abhor any semblance of corruption and abuse of power,” he said at the time of his resignation.

Shamsiah’s appointment is part of the shuffling of top posts in the government and government-linked corporations since Mahathir Mohamad’s political coalition toppled Najib Razak’s government in May.

Earlier this month, Mahathir questioned the loyalty of civil servants who openly campaigned for Najib’s coalition, saying those individuals could pose trouble in his new administration.

Northern University of Malaysia political analyst Azizuddin Mohd Sani told BenarNews that new government leaders typically bring in new people to fill high-ranking positions.

“When [the] government changes and a new administration come in, first thing they will normally do is to change the lineup,” he said.


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