Hong Kong probes bank deposits allegedly linked to Malaysia PM Najib Razak

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak speaking at a news conference after an Umno party supreme council meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 9, 2015.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak speaking at a news conference after an Umno party supreme council meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 9, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Hong Kong police are investigating bank deposits which a complainant said were linked to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, police said on Friday (Sept 11) as a probe into a troubled Malaysian state investment fund widens.

The investigation comes as another blow to Datuk Seri Najib, who chairs the advisory board of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), after the Swiss authorities froze millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts linked to the firm on suspicion of corruption and money laundering.

Hong Kong police confirmed that they were probing a matter which a complainant had linked to Mr Najib.

"A man reported to the police on Aug 30 and requested the police's investigation on some bank deposits," Hong Kong police said in a statement. "Investigations by Crime Headquarters are under way."

The complaint was lodged by Mr Khairuddin Abu Hassan, a former member of PM Najib's Umno party who was sacked from the party earlier this year.

A vocal critic of Mr Najib, Mr Khairuddin told Reuters he said in the report that deposits of over US$250 million (S$353 million) had been made into a Credit Suisse bank account in Hong Kong through four companies linked to the Malaysian premier.

But a Malaysian government spokesman dismissed these latest allegations as "baseless and politically motivated lies".

"The Prime Minister does not control any Credit Suisse bank accounts in Hong Kong, whether in his name or the name of the companies mentioned," the spokesman said.

The Malaysian government said the complaint was a bid to smear Mr Najib and accused Mr Khairuddin of working with former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is leading a campaign to oust the Prime Minister. 

"The Prime Minister has instructed (that) the full range of legal options be explored - particularly the manufacturing of banking documents by certain individuals with malicious intent to smear and discredit a serving prime minister," it added.

A spokesman for Credit Suisse in Hong Kong declined to comment.

Malaysian investigators are also looking into the fund, which has raked up over US$11 billion in debt that has weighed on the country's economy.

Mr Najib faces the biggest test of his political career after reports emerged earlier this year that investigators looking into 1MDB had traced nearly US$700 million going into bank accounts in Malaysia which they believed belonged to the Prime Minister.

He has denied taking any money from 1MDB or any other entity for personal gain.