“There are other reports beyond the CIA that says I was not involved.”
Former premier Mahathir Mohamad said this to reporters today when asked to comment on the declassified document released by the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on the Bumiputera Malaysia Finance Ltd (BMF) scandal.
It was reported yesterday that the CIA, in its summary of the BMF scandal, had opined that cirmustantial evidence suggested the scandal extended into Mahathir’s administration, who was Prime Minister at the time.
The summary titled ‘The Bank Bumiputera Scandal: More Trouble Ahead for Malaysia’s Mahathir?’ was written in 1985 but released online recently following the intelligence agency’s move to declassify some 13 million pages of various documents.
The BMF scandal saw Bank Bumiputera suffering a loss of USD1 billion after, together with BMF which was its subsidiary in Hong Kong, was said to have granted bad loans to several Hong Kong property speculators including the Carrian Group.
Mahathir, at a press conference today, told reporters that the foreign press were always attacking him because he had been relentless in criticising them, believed to be referring to the West, whenever they did something wrong.
“So they demonise me. They accuse me of things I didn’t do,” he said.
When asked if the CIA report was baseless accusation, Mahathir responded, “This thing happened way back in 1981 to 1984. Why are you bringing it up now? Can you correct anything that I have done before?
“The purpose is political. Maybe some people might benefit from it. There are other reports different than the CIA, read those reports,” he said.
The CIA had said that Bank Bumiputera was a government-owned bank closely monitored by both the Finance Ministry and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM).
“It is unlikely that the government was unaware of Bank Bumi’s increase on lending limits for its overseas branches to allow more funds to be channeled to Hong Kong,” the CIA said.
The CIA document, issued two months after an investigative committee’s report on the scandal, opined that the report ‘fueled speculation of high-level government complicity and a coverup.’
With regards to Mahathir’s involvement, it deserves to be noted that former BMF chairman Lorrain Esme Osman who lived in exile in London until his death in 2011, told The Sun Daily in an exclusive interview in 2008 that he had no evidence of Mahathir’s involvement in the matter.