Malaysian reports say Nor Shamsiah tipped as central bank chief

JUNE 06, 2018 - 12:59 PM

[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysia's local media speculated that Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus will be named as governor of the central bank after Bloomberg News reported the incumbent Muhammad Ibrahim offered to resign.

The Edge Financial Daily said Nor Shamsiah, a former deputy governor, was offered the job but hasn't made a decision yet, according to people the newspaper didn't identify. Reuters, also citing sources, said she is among the candidates being considered.

Officials at the central bank and finance ministry weren't immediately available to comment. More details may come at a post-cabinet briefing by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad later on Wednesday.

Nor Shamsiah was a deputy governor alongside Mr Muhammad under former Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, and left when her term ended in 2016. A trained accountant, she helped develop rules and guidelines for the financial industry and was involved in policies to strengthen the banking system during the Asian financial crisis.

Mr Muhammad offered to resign this week, according to people familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified because the discussions are confidential. The move comes less than a month after Mr Mahathir's surprise election victory and following questions about the central bank's purchase of land from the previous government under Mr Muhammad's watch.

Mr Muhammad hasn't responded to several calls and text messages to his mobile phone and office.

Newly-installed Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said in May that the previous administration of Najib Razak had used money raised from a land sale to the central bank - valued at about US$520 million - to pay off some of the debts of 1MDB, the state investment fund that's been mired in a corruption scandal.

Bank Negara Malaysia has said the purchase was transacted at fair value and complied with all governance requirements and relevant laws.

Nor Shamsiah was involved in an investigation on 1MDB while at the central bank.

Since joining the central bank in 1984, Mr Muhammad had risen through the ranks until his appointment as governor for a five-year term in May 2016 when Ms Zeti stepped down.

Mr Muhammad, who was born in 1960 and has a master's degree from Harvard University, cut interest rates in a surprise move shortly after taking office and implemented curbs on some foreign-exchange trading that has drawn criticism from currency traders.

BLOOMBERG