Are our banking information well protected from prying eyes and snoops?

Confidential information now readily and easily leaked, it would appear. There has been a proliferation on the world wide web. WikiLeaks aside, the most prominent in recent weeks has been the 1MDB expose by Sarawak Report operated by foreign activist Clare Rewcastle Brown.  Email correspondences exchanged among Jho Low and his colleagues, Petro Saudi, the bankers and of course, 1MDB, as evidenced on the blog portal. And we are talking of miles of email trails that have surfaced for all and sundry to feast.

Today we are also reminded of yet another big leak – Public Bank’s confidential customer information by its former employee, one Johari Mohamad who together with PKR’s strategy director and secretary general Rafizi Ramli, violated banking laws. They were arrested in a dawn raid and charged for contravening the rules of BAFIA (the Banking and Financial Institutions Act, 1989).

Despite the mighty vaults, it demonstrated that customers’ banking data are not well protected and secured 100%. From the fortress, confidential banking information could find its way to unauthorised people in the streets. This is a nightmare for many.

cyber-robbers

In using the leaked customer bank documents, PKR’s Rafizi Ramli had in a news conference on 7 March 2012, lied, distorted and misrepresented to the media and the public that Datuk Salleh had taken eight bank loans for the purchase of properties at KL Eco City at the peril of a government loan deposit placed at Public Bank.

At an earlier hearing of the trial in December 2014, Salleh had testified, “If not for the leak of the confidential bank documents by Public Bank, the PKR news conference would not have been possible but for the bank’s breach of their duty of confidentiality owed to NFCorp and the Plaintiffs in this suit.”

Rafizi in using the leaked bank documents had brazenly told the media that eight loans were taken and that Datuk Salleh had difficulty in servicing repayments of the loans. He added that there was a likelihood that a government loan deposit placed at Public Bank would be compromised. The leak and news reports resulted in an uproar in irreparable public outrage and damage.

In producing the leaked Public Bank banking documents of NFCorp, the opposition had been able to influence a roomful of media journalists and subsequently a whole nation of purported wrong doing by NFCorp and its directors.

The truth of the matter, Datuk Salleh told the court, was that no loans had been taken whatsoever from Public Bank for the purchase of the eight KL Eco City office lots as claimed. Rafizi lied, misrepresented and distorted the information.

“The leak and publication had angered the general public and alarmed the authorities. Five days later, I was charged and a further two days later, the authorities under AMLA seized my companies’ assets that were placed with Public Bank.

“The impact from the leak, news conference, news publication, charges and asset seizures, were also reported in more than 110 media publications.

“As a consequence, my business at NFCorp and our group of companies, was crippled and collapsed.”

“What made it even worse was Public Bank did not come out with a statement to clarify that no loans had been taken from them for the eight KL Eco City properties. Nor did they clarify to say that no government deposit placed at Public Bank was in jeopardy. Their continued silence on this false fabrication by the opposition to this day is deafening.”

The High Court at Kuala Lumpur before Justice Datuk John Louis O’Hara fixed 11 and 12 August for the continued hearing of the suit against Public Bank Berhad. The court would also determine on 31 March if trial could resume on 8 and 9 June.

Counsel for the plaintiffs Tan Sri Dr Muhamad Shafee Abdullah had said that the Chairman of Public Bank Berhad Tan Sri Datuk Seri Dr Teh Hong Piow would be called to answer for the bank’s integrity and the breach of confidentiality in this matter.

Syed Ismat Syed Muhamad and Farhah Mustaffa from Shafee & Co appeared for the plaintiffs.

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