Najib returned donation to Saudis in August 2013, says A-G

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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 26): The prime minister returned the donation given by the Saudi royal family as it was not utilised, Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali said today in the first public explanation on where the money had gone.

Apandi said this was one of the reasons Datuk Seri Najib Razak had been cleared of any wrongdoing over the RM2.6 billion in his private bank accounts.

"I am satisfied that there is no evidence to show that the donation was a form of gratification given corruptly.

"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 a prime minister," Apandi told a press conference at his office in Putrajaya today, 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 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, and Apandi 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, who is president of ruling Malay party Umno, 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 (1MDB) 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 elections. Opposition party PKR then filed a suit against the prime minister and three others for violating laws on election spending.

The High Court last Thursday threw out the suit.

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 and website Sarawak Report which first broke the news in July last year.

RM42 million meanwhile had originated from SRC International, a Finance Ministry-owned company, according to documents on the money trail provided by Malaysian investigators, WSJ and Sarawak Report had said.

Apandi today also said Najib had been cleared of any wrongdoing with regards to SRC International, which had taken a government-guaranteed loan of RM4 billion from Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP).