Currency traders hit

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Mahathir Mohamad, the Malaysian prime minister, who has been engaged in an outspoken two-month battle with currency speculators, yesterday called for a ban on international currency trading, calling it "unnecessary, unproductive and immoral", writes Stephen Vines.

Painting a lurid picture of Western speculators raping Malaysia's stock market and trying to set the economy back by pulling the local currency down, Dr Mahathir said "people who control the media and big money seem to want to stop Malaysia".

Dr Mahathir was speaking in Hong Kong ahead of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund conference to an audience of international financiers and government officials.

"Society must be protected from unscrupulous profiteers," he declared. "The traders apparently make billions," he said, because they were "in a position to influence currencies" and therefore could not fail to gain from their speculation. He advocated linking currencies to economic performance which would allow fluctuations "but not wild swings".

West targets corruption, page 14