|7:53AM Dec 21, 2011 (MKini)|
The Global Financial Integrity has dismissed remarks by a deputy minister that the Washington-based think-tank is working with Malaysia’s central bank on the issue of the nation’s staggering illicit capital flight.
“While I wish that I could say that we’d been in touch with Bank Negara, it is not true. They have not reached out to us, and we have not spoken with them,” said GFI communications director Clark Gascoigne (left) in an email response to Malaysiakini.
On Saturday, Deputy Finance Minister Donald Lim told Malaysiakini that GFI had been in touch with Bank Negara to work on the matter.
He said that RM150 billion reported by GFI to have flowed illicitly out of Malaysia in 2009 was “not a new issue” and measures were already being taken to plug the leak.
Lim’s statement echoes police chief Ismail Omar, who last Friday put the blame on money laundering activities and said that action was being taken to freeze the assets of those involved in such organised crime.
According to GFI last Thursday, Malaysia saw a whopping RM150 billion in illicit money siphoned out of the country in 2009, making it the top four countries with the highest illicit capital flight.
This amount is in addition to the loss of RM927 billion over a period of nine years between 2000 and 2008. In total, Malaysia has suffered a cumulative lost of RM1 trillion over the past decade.
Still willing and ready, says GFI
In the wake of a previous GFI report in January, Prime Minister Najib Razak said that Bank Negara would provide an explanation on the findings.
Soon after, Lim (left) announced that Bank Negara, which is headed by governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, had launched a probe.
But to date, Bank Negara has yet to announce the result of its investigations nor explain the massive illicit capital flight, despite offers of help from top GFI economists.
Gascoigne reiterated that if Bank Negara is interested, GFI would be happy to work with Bank Negara and the Finance Ministry to address the problem of illicit capital flowing out of the country.
“We stand by the op-ed from our lead economist, Dr Dev Kar, from this past January: We’re willing and ready to collaborate with the Malaysian government, if we’re invited to do so.
“However, as of yet, we have not been invited to do so,” he said.