PETALING JAYA: Finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz should explain how failed Genting Hong Kong got RM2.5 billion in unsecured loans from three local banks, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said today.

The cruise operator filed for bankruptcy earlier this month, and Singapore’s Straits Times reported on Sunday that Maybank, CIMB and RHB Bank were among some of the company’s chief unsecured creditors, with a combined exposure of US$600 million (RM2.5 billion).

“I urge the finance minister to immediately answer why these banks were allowed to give Genting Hong Kong unsecured loans?” Anwar said in a Facebook post.

“The government, through Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), Khazanah, and the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), are the largest shareholders of these three banks.

“How could this gambling company get an unsecured loan so easily?”

Lim Kok Thay founded Genting Hong Kong in 1993, in part as a measure to diversify from the Genting group’s flagship casino resort, which was created by his father, Lim Goh Tong.

Kok Thay resigned from his posts as Genting Hong Kong chairman and CEO on Jan 21, days after the company filed to wind up its business.

Anwar noted that while Genting Hong Kong was registered in Hong Kong, Kok Thay, who is a Malaysian, should have been asked for a personal guarantee or savings from the companies he owned in Malaysia.

In demanding that Zafrul explain how Genting Hong Kong would now repay the RM2.5 billion in loans, Anwar said the government needed to provide an immediate explanation in order to “prevent another Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal from occurring”.

The BMF scandal made headlines in the early 1980s after it was revealed that the financial institution had given out loans in amounts that exceeded its capital, losing RM2.5 billion in the process and forcing the government to bailout BMF’s parent company, Bank Bumiputra Malaysia Berhad (BBMB).