AmBank will sue parties behind Najib graft hoax

AmBank will sue parties behind Najib graft hoax
PHOTO: The Star/ANN

AmBank Group will take legal action against those behind the blog postings of a fake press statement and statutory declaration, once it ascertains the identity of those involved and motive of the hoax.

The bank's statement came after a new anti-graft watchdog claimed a former AmBank officer was sacked in 2013 over a total of S$21 million being deposited into Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal bank accounts, only for the self-proclaimed watchdog to admit hours later that it was a hoax. The CAGM had claimed the money was purportedly channelled to the ruling Barisan Nasional's component parties before the country's general election in May that year.

"We are continuing our investigations and inquiries into the Citizens for Accountable Governance Malaysia (CAGM) and its purported chairman, Md Zainal Abidin, to ascertain the real identity of those behind the postings. Once their identities and motives are ascertained, we will take such action as is available to us under the law," AmBank Group said in a statement on Thursday.

AmBank said CAGM on July 12 published what it described as a "press statement" entitled "Najib, Ambank & Mahathir".

The bank said the blog then corroborated its press statement by publishing on July 14 what it described as a "statutory declaration" from an alleged former employee of "AmBank Malaysia Berhad".

On July 15, AmBank said CAGM published another post describing itself, its purported chairman, Md Zainal Abidin and its postings as a hoax created as "just an experiment in social media in Malaysia".

"Regardless of the motives behind this elaborate hoax, the postings of July 12 and 14 contain malicious and defamatory statements against AmBank Group, our chairman and employees," it said.

"This was compounded by the republication of these statements in other media publications thereby gaining unwarranted attention and traction. It is of little comfort to us that the so-called CAGM now admits that this hoax was directed at the media and presumably not at us."

AmBank Group said it is bound by the Financial Services Act 2013 (FSA) and Islamic Financial Services Act 2013 (IFSA) and that the FSA and IFSA are strict in their protection of client confidentiality.

AmBank said it adopts good practices in corporate governance and applies Malaysian banking laws and regulations. "We have co-operated fully with the authorities in an open and transparent manner, and will continue to do so."

"We would like to reassure our valued customers that the AmBank Group operates with high levels of integrity and that our business is operating as usual," said AmBank Group chairman Tan Sri Azman Hashim in the statement.

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