KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 (Reuters) – Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz has the expertise and authority to seek improved terms on Genting Hong Kong’s unsecured loans from three Malaysian banks, opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today.
Anwar said Tengku Zafrul was Maybank’s head of investment banking when the loan originated before joining CIMB, which also provided loans to Genting Hong Kong.
“He (Zafrul) has been finance minister for almost two years. He has extensive knowledge of the transaction and had ample time to make changes that would benefit bank users, but that was not the case.
“In short, there is only one person who can negotiate a better deal with GHK on behalf of Malaysians, and that is the current finance minister. It turns out he failed,” Anwar said in a statement today.
Last month, Anwar Tengku called on Zafrul to explain how GHK – which recently filed for bankruptcy – had managed to borrow US$600 million (RM2.5 billion) without collateral from Maybank, CIMB and RHB.
Tengku Zafrul had said that it is not uncommon for financial institutions to take risks and make such loans.
Anwar today accused the minister of not having given an answer that reflected the seriousness of the situation.
“In issuing unsecured loans to GHK, the losses suffered by Maybank, CIMB and RHB are also ‘borne’ by the Malaysians.
“Malaysia has long been embroiled in various financial scandals; from the Bumiputera financial scandal to 1MDB, where billions of ringgit were lost due to abuse of power, corruption and lack of principles of transparency and accountability by those responsible,” he said.
On January 23 in Singapore Straits Times reported that a senior banker at one of the three institutions admitted GHK’s problems were worrying after it announced this week that it had filed for the company’s dissolution after failing to secure financial lifelines for its operations.
The report states that the three Malaysian banks – all of which have a regional presence in Southeast Asia – are well capitalised, but a hit by Genting Hong Kong will have serious consequences.