Following reports that Bank Negara Governor Zeti Aziz will be called in for questioning by IGP as reported on The Malaysian Insider.
Nazir Razak has come to the rescue of Bank Negara Governor Zeti Aziz on instagram. The brother of the Prime Minister posted a photograph of himself with Zeti Aziz and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde with the caption: “My moment with 2 icons of global finance”
Zeti Aziz – An icon of Global Finance?
Bank Governor Zeti Aziz credibility was brought into question following her family’s involvement in several offshore entities housed in the tax haven of the British Virgin Isles.
Despite the striking expose that multiple bank accounts were held and controlled by Zeti’s family members, there has been no explicit reply or denial from Zeti Aziz.
Attempts to the contact the family to afford them a right of reply was similarly met with utter silence.
Given that the database put up by the International Consortium Of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) is open for public access and that the information put forth in the expose is easily verified as true, the complete silence from Zeti Aziz comes as no surprise.
In an effort to mask the fact that true ownership in the companies Iron Rhapsody Limited and Glittering Snow international ltd is held by members of Zeti Aziz’s family, multiple layers of BVI shell companies were used.
Nazir’s version of an icon of Global Finance?
Pictured as a ‘global finance icon’ by Nazir Razak is the International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde whom in a largely reported case was placed under formal investigation by a French court last year for her role in approving dubious transactions in 2008.
Specifically, the court’s concerns refer to a €400 million payment made to businessman Bernard Tapie.
Bernard Tapie is a high profile French businessman that has been in the pubic eye for all the wrong reasons for over two decades. Accused of match fixing during his time as owner of French football giant Olympique de Marseille in 1993, Tapie was subsequently sent to prison for corruption and intimidating witnesses. His sentence resulted in him spending six months behind bars.
However, despite his brushes with the law in the 1990s, Tapie didn’t stop courting controversy, which ultimately led to Lagarde’s troubles. Even though he had previously served as a minister in a socialist government, Tapie heavily backed Sarkozy’s right-wing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party at the 2007 election.
The news raised many eyebrows, with people speculating why some who had been so ideologically to the left of the political spectrum would choose to support such a pro-business candidate. It turned out that Tapie’s real motive had been solving a number of tax issues he was facing, which Sarkozy – and importantly Lagarde – had allegedly offered to resolve upon their election.
In the French judicial system, being placed under formal investigation reflects the court’s belief that a crime has been committed. Is this Nazir Razak’s perception of a global icons of finance?
The CIMB Southern Deal – Nazir Razak and Zeti Aziz
Let us not forget that Zeti Aziz’s husband Tawfiq Ayman was the broker in the Southern CIMB deal. Under Malaysian law in order for share transactions involving banks to take place, they must be approved by Bank Negara.
This placed Zeti Aziz in a unique position to influence the outcome of the Southern CIMB deal. Essentially by virtue of Malaysian regulations, Zeti Aziz was set to be a King maker in the hostile corporate take over of Southern Bank by CIMB.
After a meeting held at a 5 star hotel based in Bukit Bintang, it was agreed that Zeti’s husband Tawfiq Ayman would serve as a broker to the deal and that Zeti Aziz would approve and reject bank proposals in favor of the CIMB take over.
What followed is best summarized by a Wall street journal report: Southern Bank suffered a serious setback last week when Malaysia’s central bank rejected a proposal by the midsize financial institution to buy a controlling stake in Singapore insurer Asia General Holdings.
The planned 2.07 billion ringgit ($548 million) transaction was widely viewed as a key element in Southern’s defense strategy against an expected takeover bid by the country’s second-largest lender, state-controlled CIMB
Zeti Aziz played a crucial part in not only approving the deal in which Nazir Razak’s CIMB benefited from but also by virtue of her role as acting Governor of the central bank Zeti was able to reject a key element of Southern bank’s defence to the CIMB take over.
In order for a payment to be given to Zeti Aziz, her husband Tawfiq Ayman served as the broker of the deal giving him access to a commission above market value on top of kick backs that would have been paid offshore. This gives credence to the need for the existence of the offshore bank accounts created under the control of Zeti Aziz’s family members.
The Southern Bank deal was finalized during the time in which offshore bank accounts controlled by Zeti’s family were created.
The Tong Kooi Ong & Nazir Razak link
Tong Kooi Ong owner of the edge media group and Nazir Razak have a solid working relationship and a friendship that dates back to as early as Anwar’s days as Finance minister.
Given the strong relationship between Zeti Aziz and Nazir Razak it is no surprise that he has come to her defense and given the nature of Nazir’s relationship with Tong Kooi Ong it is not surprising that portals controlled by the media magnate carried the story.
The close relationship between the corporate magnates Tong Kooi Ong and Nazir Razak is further solidified by the fact that Tong sits on the advisory board to CIMB Group.
As to whether Tong Kooi Ong is on CIMB payroll we can only speculate.
As pressure mounts on Zeti Aziz and her family, Nazir Razak will lose a powerful ally dating back to the take over of Southern Bank by CIMB in 2006.
I will leave you to draw your own conclusions with an excerpt from a letter to Malaysiakini:
“I cannot help but sympathise and emphatise with Tan Teong Hean who is faced with a predator with strong political connections and favourable government policies, bent on acquiring the bank. There is no security even at his level of position and control.
For the simple fact that CIMB is managed by a brother of our deputy prime minister, the application of the rules by Bank Negara must not only be fair but seen to be fair. The Central Bank’s rejection of SBB’s offer to acquire Asia General has already been taken as biased by some quarters.
I do not buy the reason given by CIMB’s Nazir Razak that the price offered for SBB shares was good compared with the share prices of SBB over the last three years. For the same period, most companies listed on Bursa Malaysia were under-valued, even in terms of simple net tangible assets basis.”