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by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): In the excitement over former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad openly calling Minister of International Trade & Industry Datuk Rafidah Aziz a liar over the APs controversy, the government has forgotten about the shares probe by Bank Negara and Securities Commission that was supposed to be completed by 9 July 2005.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had on 8 June 2005 given Bank Negara one month to complete the probe into suspected market manipulation and complaints over Hong Leong Bank’s failure to provide margin financing for certain shares. Now two months have passed and there is still no report from either the Securities Commisson or Bank Negara.
On 7 June 2005 the Prime Minister had expressed unhappiness that Hong Leong Bank’s shortlist of 145 companies and instruments, which were then expanded to 454, on the Bursa Malaysia that should not be offered share financing had included reputable and strong companies such as Hyundai-Sime Darby Bhd, Allianz, and cash-rich companies such as Berjaya Sports Toto Bhd, banking group RHB, oil services firm SapuraCrest Bhd and hospital operator Pantai Holdings Bhd.
The Prime Minister had blamed Hong Leong Bank’s actions as irresponsible and unacceptable for precipitating the 5% drop in the share market. Being responsible for causing the fall in stock market is a very serious offence. Billions of ringgit are involved and small investors’ savings may be wiped out because of the irresponsible actions of banks or the manipulations of so-called syndicates. DAP is surprised why the regulatory authorities such as Bank Negara or Securities Commission have knowledge of such syndicates but is powerless to take action against them.
The Securities Commission has shown itself to be toothless tiger by failing to take action against listed companies that makes false projections of profits for the sole purpose of jacking up their shares prices. Such dishonest actions have resulted in investors who bought these shares on the assurances of these profit projections to lose money when the projections are not fulfilled. The Securities Commission to take action has raised doubts of their effectiveness and authority as a regulatory body.
The question now is whether Bank Negara is similarly ineffective in taking action against errant banks whether it is Hong Leong Bank or other anchor banks who act against the interests of the public, investors or consumers. DAP will monitor the investigations carried out by Bank Negara to ensure that promises of action are not mere rhetoric but will be followed up by action.
must take stern action as a punitive lesson against any one who fails to act
responsibly in the interests of the public and the nation. However the more
important question is whether Hong Leong Bank has been unfairly singled out
and made the scapegoat when this is the generally accepted practice of all
banks carrying out prudent banking. DAP hopes that Bank Negara and the
Securities Commission should not forget about the report or else the Prime
Minister will look bad as a Finance Minister whose instructions are not
obeyed but also do not practice what he preaches.