Friday, March 11, 2016

Irwan to replace Zeti as Bank Negara head, says WSJ

Tan Sri Irwan Serigar Abdullah will replace Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz as Bank Negar governor, despite the central bank's efforts to name an internal candidate, The Wall Street Journal reports today. The American financial daily, quoting sources, said Putrajaya would name Irwan, secretary-general of the Finance Ministry, as the new head of Bank Negara next week. Zeti's term ends in April and said yesterday the central bank has submitted the name of her successor. "We have made the recommendation and the government will make the decision and submit the name to the (Yang di-Pertuan) Agong," Zeti told reporters on the sidelines of the Wharton Global Forum 2016 in Kuala Lumpur. "Just be patient. (It will be announced) very soon," she said when asked who would be her preferred choice between Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, and Datuk Mohamed Ibrahim, the current deputy governor. WSJ said the Prime Minister's Office, Bank Negara and Irwan did not comment on the latter's likely appointment.   Irwan joined the Finance Ministry in 2003 and is a member of Bank Negara's board. WSJ said if Irwan is appointed, it "might be a blow to Zeti's (lobbying) efforts" to fill the post with an internal candidate. The daily praised Zeti for her "stable economic management", which attracted investors to the stock and bond markets. During the final year of her tenure, she has had to grapple with a shrinking ringgit and the fallout from the corruption scandal surrounding state investor, 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is chairman of 1MDB's advisory board and Irwan also sits on that board. WSJ first broke the news last July that US$681 million (RM2.6 billion) was deposited into Najib's bank accounts and said the funds came from 1MDB. Another RM42 million from SRC International Sdn Bhd was also transferred million into Najib's accounts. Investigators in at least five countries, including the US, are probing into the missing billions from 1MDB. "Bank Negara has been among the most aggressive agencies investigating the allegations against the fund, which is 100% owned by the ministry," said WSJ. In January, the attorney-general said there was "insufficient evidence" to charge Najib with criminal wrongdoing over the RM2.6 billion, which Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali said was a donation from the Saudi royal family. – March 12, 2016.]]>

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