KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 18): The billions of ringgit that ended up in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's accounts did not come from the Saudi royal family, but companies related to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) finance editor Ken Brown said.
Brown told Australia's ABC News in an interview that they had evidence to back this up, and that ongoing international investigations into 1MDB would likely lead authorities to Najib.
"Our reporting has shown for months now that the money did not come from the Saudis but it came via a bunch of companies and bank accounts related to 1MDB.
"Our story hasn't been called into question yet and we have lots of evidence to back that up," said Brown in the interview, which was uploaded onto ABC News on Feb 12.
He said the "real action" now were the overseas investigations into 1MDB, and said information would slowly trickle out in the next few months.
"I think, you know, it will be hard to keep it away from the PM," said Brown, referring to the direction of the investigations.
Brown added he believed Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali's proposed amendments to the Official Secrets Act 1972 came about because the government wanted Malaysians to stop talking about the money Najib received.
Calling the proposed amendments an "extreme action", he said it was no surprise that it was mooted shortly, after Apandi directed investigations into the funds be closed.
"They've gotten a big backlash from that and now they come out and say no one can speak about that," said Brown.
He said the proposal to charge journalists who refused to disclose their sources was also a move to cripple news organisations.
"Last year they shut down a couple of news organisation that had been reporting on the scandal. So this is part of that.
"They're really trying to limit hat because the more they come down the more it looks worse for the government."
In July last year, WSJ and the Sarawak Report reported that SRC International Sdn Bhd had transferred RM42 million into Najib’s personal bank accounts.
The sums were transferred between December 2014 and February 2015 through SRC International's subsidiaries, Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd and a separate company, Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd, a private company set up to manage 1MDB’s corporate social responsibility contributions.
But after six months of investigation, Apandi on Jan 26 said there was no criminal wrongdoing as the funds Najib received was a donation from "the Saudi royal family".