Nazir’s US$7m let-off: Furore conveys a message

5
4534
Photograph: ideas.org.my

Shouldn’t someone who is chairman of a bank exhibit a higher sense of moral and ethical awareness, asks K Haridas.

We, ordinary people, must be so stupid for CIMB to assume that we will accept the statement that Nazir Razak did not misuse his position with regard to the US$7m that he confirmed receiving from his brother.

Already the brother’s trust deficit nationally and internationally has broken through the bottom. The outcome of the internal review carried out by the CIMB Board is just amazing! Can we expect anything better from a GLC?

I thought that Nazir Razak was taking voluntary leave prior to submitting his resignation as he was held to be a person of high integrity. For him to say that what he had done was in good faith is not good enough, coming from a man who has been the chairman of a bank and who has won so many accolades. I suppose if this had been done by a bank officer, he would have been dismissed.

The report I read says that Nazir told the Wall Street Journal that he believed the money was from donations he helped raise from Malaysian corporations and individuals for the 2013 general elections and is not sure of any other source of the funds. Since when have Malaysian corporations started giving donations in US dollars? Possibly another spin to cover up?

Please visit a money changer or even a bank and try and make a placement for US$5,000, and listen to the requirements and the forms that have to be filled. The money changer will ask for your identity card and will specifically want to know the purpose for which the money is being exchanged. Surely, banks would require a higher level of compliance.

As board members are committed to maintaining the highest standards of corporate governance, they should clarify whether such disclosures were made. By all standards Mr Chairman it was RM24.5m and not chicken feed! What about the Anti-Money Laundering Act? Does he not know about this and its implications?

Nazir Razak only responded when he was caught with his pants down following disclosures by the WSJ. If, as he indicated, he received these donations, is this also not treated as personal income? Are such donations all tax exempt? Perhaps he and his brother, who secured RM2.6bn, are all tax exempt Umno individuals! What is the position of the Inland Revenue Board in such cases? Has he violated any election laws?

Please do not think that we, the public, are fools. The higher you are, the greater the fall, and the very fact that you have not resigned is indicative of the level of ethics that such people understand and practice.

The board has identified some “process shortcomings”. They have instructed management to enact improvements to prevent such an incident recurring.

Processes, members of the inquiry, are subverted by people. They were just not followed. It is not that you do not have processes. The possibility is that the board closed its eyes to these because existing processes were possibly violated by the ‘Chairman’ himself.

This is all confidential as it remains an internal review. I feel insulted and I have decided to close my accounts with CIMB. If this not indicative of the chairman’s and the board’s integrity, then I will have nothing more to do with CIMB.

Our nation is facing a very serious crisis of ethics and integrity, and we have people making the public look like idiots. Enough is enough!

The reality is that it is fair play for everyone until you are caught. But when you are caught it, looks like the rules are bent and issues just whitewashed to protect those in power. Shouldn’t someone, who is chairman of a bank, be sensitive to such issues and work well above the compliance requirements and exhibit a higher sense of moral and ethical awareness?

The integrity of a banker is what is of value. While we understand that people are not perfect and that mistakes are made, the issue of taking total responsibility remains.

This is where Nazir fails badly. We are speaking about disbursing around RM24.5m. I am even more shocked at those who still praise him for his integrity. This only reveals their understanding of ethics.

A person of ethics will not disburse such amounts to help politicians at elections. Nazir would – because he may be indebted to the politics of the day to be in the position he holds. Family name, Umno supporter and his links with the government of the day have blinded him to his professional responsibility as a banker. He has also indirectly subverted the election process.

Beyond issues of compliance, there are serious moral and ethical violations outside the ambit of the so-called ‘internal review’. Another pertinent question is, what else has he done over the years?

I would respect him had he on his own admitted to a lapse of professionalism and came clean before the WSJ cornered him. This is perhaps ethical for the realisation would have been before the fact of being caught. There are many who think ethics is cheap and only a good subject for forums and discussions.

It is a real challenge in the Malaysian context to live by and practise ethics on two feet. For one it is a lonely road and cuts a very high price, both in one’s position and life, considering the powerful default culture and environment shaped by rent-seeking, cronyism, patronage, corruption and nepotism.

To live by ethics is to be clear about the boundaries in one’s life and actions; to understand the negotiables and the non-negotiables; and to walk the talk. It is not about perfection but it definitely is about change and realisation.

When you realise that you have made a mistake, ethics calls for admission and the need to put things right, pay the price for the same, and take total responsibility – all of which are in the finest traditions of practising good ethics. It is about being a congruent person.

Actions like that of the CIMB Board makes ethics look cheap. The cost is heavy especially when people at the top are treated differently from ordinary employees. This breeds cynicism and strengthens the default culture.

The board will lose credibility within the organisation. Had an employee done this he would have been given the option to resign or face a disciplinary inquiry board where charges would be preferred.

It is so sad to see how the Razak name is being scarred. We have heard about one brother who tried to deal with the late PI Bala; now we have Nazir, not to mention his esteemed brother, his stepson and the extravaganza of the family shopping sprees running into millions of ringgit.

I thought Nazir would save the side, but this has disappointed me greatly.

“I understand the furore, and with hindsight, I wish I didn’t,” claims Nazir.

No excuses, Nazir; you are the chairman, and the sooner you take a walk, the better it would be for the bank, your colleagues and the high standards that CIMB stands for. Redeem what little is left of your credibility.

(Visited 5,037 times, 1 visits today)
Thanks for dropping by! You are one of an increasing number of readers looking up Aliran for independent analyses and views. We work hard to keep these articles free for all to read. But we do need funds to continue the struggle for Justice, Freedom and Solidarity. To maintain our independence, we do not carry any advertisements; nor do we accept funding from dubious sources. So would you consider making a donation to keep us going - or why not become an Aliran member or subscribe to our FREE newsletters.
K Haridas
K Haridas, an Aliran executive committee member, is the current chair of the Business Ethics Institute of Malaysia and of the Malaysian chapter of Initiatives of Change International.

5 COMMENTS

  1. A grave travesty of ethics.He should volutarily step down to redeem himself and the good name of CIMB.

  2. He does it bcoz Najib is his brother. If not bcoz of his brother, he definitely not going to do it.
    So, it is quite clear he did it on purpose n with bad intention against our country.

  3. As a CEO of a bank, helping his brother to distribute the (allegedly) ill-gotten loot through money laundering doesn’t speaks well of him. What have you got to say, Bank Negara Malaysia.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here