Najib to sue Harakah over report linking stepson with 1MDB

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 27): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will be taking action against PAS party organ Harakahdaily over a report that linked his stepson to the controversial 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Utusan Online reported yesterday.

The report said that the letter of demand was handed over to Harakahdaily's managing editor Dr Rosli Yaakub at 3pm yesterday.

Najib had initiated the defamation proceedings against the Islamist party's official paper over an article titled "Dana 1MDB biayai syarikat filem Riza Aziz?" (1MDB funding Riza Aziz's production company?)

The report, a commentary based on the New York Times article about the wealth of businessman Low Taek Jho and his role as a property investor, was written by Rosli and published on February 12.

Low, who is better known as Jho Low, is a close associate of Najib and was said to have had transactions with various parties, including Riza.

Riza, the son of Najib's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor from her earlier marriage, made headlines last year after he was revealed to be a producer of the award-winning movie "The Wolf of Wall Street" and his  purchase of a luxury condominium in New York worth RM110 million.

The New York Times article, titled "Well connected at home, young Malaysian has an appetite for New York", described how Jho Low, in 2010, began making some very expensive real estate deals in the US, using shell companies.

His purchase of luxury condominiums, Rosli had written, raised important questions about where his money was coming from.

Said to be an advisor to 1MDB,  Jho Low had been paid a substantial amount for his role in the state investment vehicle, the Harakahdaily report said.

The article also questioned how Riza had obtained the funds to purchase the luxury property from Jho Low and to finance his production house Red Granite Pictures.

Quoting the New York Times article, Harakahdaily said Riza had once commented that he had funded the movie with money obtained from "sovereign wealth", believed to be a reference to 1MDB.

When contacted, Rosli said he was proud to be sued by the prime minister, adding that he would be seeking the advice of his lawyer Mohamed Hanipa Maidin before taking any action.

"I am proud that the prime minister wants to sue someone as small as me. I am proud that someone as big as the prime minister will sue me. He's afraid of even a small person like me," he told The Malaysian Insider.

However, he refused to reveal if had received the letter of demand from Najib as was reported by Utusan Online.

"I have yet to receive any letter today (yesterday)," said Rosli's secretary Sharini Mat Sutris, who is also the administration manager for Harakah.

In June last year, Najib sued news portal Malaysiakini over readers' comments published in the website that were allegedly defamatory.

Najib also threatened to sue opposition lawmaker Tony Pua for “defamatory” remarks against him on November 3 last year about 1MDB which caused him “tremendous stress and embarrassment”.

Pua was told to publish a retraction and apology within 14 days in two national newspapers, or face legal action for his speech recorded in the November 3 video: “Tony Pua: Najib is creating the biggest scandal ever in the history of Malaysia”.

Pua was also told to remove the video from the Internet, stop further defamatory statements, and pay Najib for the damages over his remarks.