Contravening BAFIA provisions of Section 97 spells a RM3 million fine or a three-year jail term or both. This is the prospect of Rafizi and Johari.
While everyone’s lips have been pouting wet in support for PKR Strategy Director Rafizi Ramli despite his violation of BAFIA, nothing much has been said of or for Johari Mohamad, the source of the leak of confidential bank documents. Much to the displeasure of some quarters, state funds by the hundreds of thousands are being used to just rescue Rafizi. Johari is not mentioned. This all appears very fishy. Is there a lot more going on than Bank Negara Malaysia initially suspected? Fabiani Azmi sharpens his nose and discovers ingredients for a Frederick Forsyth novel...
Johari Mohamad, the clerk from Public Bank Berhad, said it all at a news conference on 14 May that he wasn’t the one. He claimed that he was summoned by his employer and interrogated for leaking confidential information of the bank’s customers. He said the investigations were conducted following a complaint in which 21 breaches were reported. He denied he had the access to such privileged customer information as he was merely a clerk. He also claimed that he was harassed to the edge by his employer and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) resulting in his premature resignation.
If what Johari says -- that he had no access -- is true, then it begs the question: who had the authority and access to download the confidential banking information to share with Rafizi Ramli? Were there others in collusion with Rafizi? Or did hackers infiltrate the bank’s customer information systems? Or was Johari just the solo conduit? These and other pressing questions make many an enquiring mind anxious to know. Whoever, whichever, whatever, however, it is no wonder that it took BNM this long to investigate and charge.
This is where the mystery and intrigue begins.
This BAFIA saga makes for an interesting investigation that smacks of espionage. It is a case of infiltrating the secured systems of a bank, obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the custodian of the information, let alone that of the customer or even BNM, the sole authority who decides if bank customer information may be given. Espionage is inherently clandestine, and in many cases illegal and punishable by law. Contravening BAFIA provisions of Section 97 spells a RM3 million fine or a three-year jail term or both. This is the prospect of Rafizi and Johari.
Supporters are apt to believe that Johari is merely a victim of circumstances in this intrigue, used and revealed by Rafizi. Johari had no access, he said. He was also employed in a branch not connected to the customer. Johari even went on to say he had never met the chairman of NFCorp. In a separate statement, NFCorp chairman Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Salleh Ismail also said he had never known of Johari. If all this is true, then who had unlocked the vault of information?
An interesting facet of this BAFIA saga is that BNM has not taken action against the bank for being careless with its customers' banking information. Their secured systems seem to have weak points sufficient for spies to pry or buy. Was Johari paid handsomely to extract the information at the expense of losing his job of 17 years, if caught?
Another interesting facet is that BNM has not charged PKR vice president and MP for Lembah Pantai Nurul Izzah Anwar, and MP for Ampang Zuraida Kamaruddin. Both had presided with Rafizi in concert at the 7 March news conference in an orchestrated move to reveal the confidential bank information. Legally both would be considered parties to the crime as accessories.
Wikipedia describes an accessory as a person who assists in the commission of a crime, but who does not actually participate in the commission of the crime as a joint principal. The distinction between an accessory and a principal is a question of fact and degree. The principal is the one whose acts or ommission, accompanied by the relevant mens rea (Latin for "guilty mind"), are the most immediate cause of the actus reus (Latin for "guilty act"). If two or more people are directly responsible for the actus reus, they can be charged as joint principals. The test to distinguish a joint principal from an accessory is whether the defendant independently contributed to causing the actus reus rather than merely giving generalised and/or limited help and encouragement.
Yet another interesting facet of the BAFIA saga is the absolute silence on the part of Public Bank Berhad. The bank is ranked as a top-class award-winning bank. HRH Raja Nazrin Shah once teased the bank’s chairman at an evening organised by the Institute of Public Relations Malaysia that he must have a vaultful of awards.
For a bank that prides itself on such winning accomplishments and excellent repute, it is odd that it has not commenced legal action against Rafizi for the damage caused to its sterling reputation. Does this not make one wonder why? Would a move to sue Rafizi compromise its position? Is the bank fearful of public outrage if it did pursue Rafizi? Did the bank’s external vendors with access to its sytems leak it – which makes for a bigger story? Or are the bank’s managers in cahoots with Rafizi, which makes for an even bigger story?
All the ingredients for a Frederick Forsyth novel are here. The plot is looking complex and convoluted. Until the hearing begins on Rafizi and Johari in the Shah Alam Sessions Court, we will all be kept in mystery as to what BNM investigations will reveal.
Selangor MB Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and his executive council have approved funds to support Rafizi Ramli to the tune of RM500,000. A concerned citizien has spoken up that nowhere in the constitution does it say that the state should pay for such unlawful actions. It is therefore strange. Even more strange is that Rafizi is an ex-CEO of the Selangor State Economic Adviser’s office – no longer in office since June. In case you are wondering, Rafizi is not even a Selangorean. He is from the state of Terengganu. He is deemed a lawbreaker. Why should public money be used at the expense of taxpayers for a lawbreaker? Does this not tell us something of the PKR opposition that hopes to take Putrajaya?
But Rafizi is a crown jewel for the opposition. He would be protected and rescued at all costs. It appears this is the way going forward with the opposition. While Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has set aside funds that run hundreds of thousands for Rafizi, no mention is made for Rafizi’s accomplice Johari Mohamad.
Will Johari end up as the sacrificial lamb? Or is there a stickier web of intrigue to suggest that Johari, Rafizi and the bank may be in collusion?
Is there a lot more going on than BNM initially suspected?
About the Writer
Fabiani Azmi is an avid reader of The Mole and the blogs. He believes equations are simple to solve. One plus two certainly equals three.