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Bank Negara officials go on leave amidst internal probe into RM2b land deal

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Bank Negara has confirmed that several of its “relevant officers” have chosen to go on leave as the central bank conducts an internal review on its January purchase of a plot of government land for RM2 billion.

“Bank Negara had in August 2018 commissioned a review by an independent party in relation to the purchase of the land on Lot 41.

“The review is still ongoing. To facilitate the internal review, relevant officers of Bank Negara have opted to take a leave of absence,” it said in a two-lined statement today.

Earlier today, The Star Online reported that four of the central bank's officials had been put on leave amidst the probe.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng previously confirmed that the 22.5-hectare plot of land, located adjacent to the bank's Sasana Kijang complex in Kuala Lumpur, had been sold to raise funds and bail out 1MDB.

Lim also said that he believed that the bank had been under “all sorts of pressure” to agree to the deal.

Bank Negara is also alleged to have overpaid for the land, a claim the bank has since denied.

Bank Negara had purchased the plot on Jan 24 this year, a week after 1MDB’s Dec 27, 2017, deadline to pay off part of its debts to the Abu Dhabi state fund.

The land was supposedly acquired by Bank Negara to be utilised for the relocation of the Global Islamic Finance University and the International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance.

In June this year, the bank’s governor Muhammad Ibrahim had offered to resign after serving just over two years into his five-year term.

He had denied facilitating the then government in repaying 1MDB’s debts, pointing out that he had no control over how the government intended to spend the proceeds from the land purchase.

Muhammad was later replaced by Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus, a former Bank Negara official who had probed 1MDB back in 2015.

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