This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on January 27, 2016.
KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak returned the donation given by the Saudi royal family as it was not utilised, Attorney-General (AG) Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali said yesterday in the first public explanation on where the money had gone.
The AG said this was one of the reasons Najib had been cleared of any wrongdoing over the RM2.6 billion in his private bank accounts.
“Evidence obtained from the investigation does not show that the donation was given as an inducement or reward for doing or forbearing to do anything in relation to his capacity as prime minister,” the AG told a press conference at his office here yesterday, reading from a prepared press statement.
“Furthermore, in August 2013, a sum of US$620 million (RM2.03 billion) was returned by Yang Amat Berhormat PM (prime minister) to the Saudi royal family because the sum was not utilised.”
A sum of US$681 million (RM2.08 billion) had been deposited into the prime minister’s personal accounts between March 22, 2013 and April 10, 2013. The AG said based on evidence from witnesses and supporting documents submitted by the anti-graft agency, the money was a personal donation to Najib from the Saudi royal family, which “was given to him without any consideration”.
Najib had previously denied any wrongdoing, saying he had the authority to hold donations in trust on behalf of the party. However, he did not say how the money had been used. He also denied receiving funds from state-owned investment firm 1Malaysia Development Bhd for personal gain.
The timing of the fund transfer ahead of the 13th general election in May 2013 led to allegations that Najib had unduly influenced the election. Opposition party PKR then filed a suit against the prime minister and three others for violating laws on election spending.
The US$681 million was the largest portion of the total RM2.6 billion transferred into Najib’s accounts. It originated from a British Virgin Islands company and went through Falcon Private Bank in Singapore, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and the Sarawak Report website, which first broke the news in July last year.
Meanwhile, RM42 million had originated from SRC International Sdn Bhd, a finance ministry-owned company, according to documents on the money trail provided by Malaysian investigators, the WSJ and Sarawak Report said.
Yesterday, the AG also said that Najib had been cleared of any wrongdoing with regard to SRC International, which had taken a government-guaranteed loan of RM4 billion from Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Diperbadankan). — The Malaysian Insider