Three companies linked to public funds allegedly channelled to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal bank accounts were raided last Friday, Attorney-General (A-G) Abdul Gani Patail said yesterday, injecting more drama into an alleged multimillion-dollar scandal that has shaken the government in the last 48 hours.
The raids followed a report in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) last Friday that Datuk Seri Najib had received nearly US$700 million (S$940 million) into his personal accounts in a Malaysian bank between 2013 and this year via three companies, and also through a Swiss bank in Singapore.
Mr Najib said last Friday that he had "never taken funds for personal gain as alleged by my political opponents" and threatened "the full force of the law" against his attackers. He pointed a finger at former premier Mahathir Mohamad for "working hand in glove with foreign nationals" to topple him.
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday called for a wide-ranging investigation into the WSJ allegations.
"If he is confident the allegations are untrue, then he should take legal action against his accusers to clear his name and restore the government's credibility," Tan Sri Muhyiddin said in a statement.
Just hours later, A-G Abdul Gani confirmed that a special task force comprising various agencies has been probing 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), and he has received documents the WSJ said had pointed to the alleged deposits into Mr Najib's accounts.
CALL FOR IMMEDIATE PROBE
I am of the opinion that the investigative authorities such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Bank Negara Malaysia and the Royal Malaysian Police in collaboration with the Attorney-General must act immediately to investigate all the allegations made against Najib.
TAN SRI MUHYIDDIN YASSIN,Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister
NEVER TOOK FUNDS
Let me be very clear: I have never taken funds for personal gain as alleged by my political opponents - whether from 1MDB, SRC International or other entities, as these companies have confirmed.
DATUK SERI NAJIB RAZAK,Malaysian PM, in his Facebook post
Datuk Muhammad Khairun Aseh, political secretary to Mr Najib, told the Sinar Harian newspaper yesterday: "The report was most malicious and unsubstantiated with weak and dubious sources. We will take action according to the law."
WSJ's Hong Kong bureau chief Ken Brown told CNBC in an interview that the business paper is standing by its report.
"We are very careful and we believe the investigation and the documents we have are very, you know, solid and come from a very reliable investigation and not a political investigation," Mr Brown told the news channel last Friday.
The allegations, if true, would be the first time that Mr Najib is directly linked to siphoning money from public funds.
The three companies are SRC International, an energy company owned by Malaysia's Finance Ministry; SRC's subsidiary Gandingan Mentari; and Ihsan Perdana, which carries out corporate responsibility programmes for state investor 1MDB.
1MDB has racked up debts of RM42 billion (S$15 billion), leading Tun Dr Mahathir to ask blunt questions about its finances.
According to WSJ, Ihsan Perdana funnelled RM42 million into Mr Najib's account. The Star newspaper reported Ihsan Perdana as denying yesterday that it had transferred money to Mr Najib's private account.
WSJ also claimed that deposits of US$681 million were placed into the Prime Minister's accounts via Falcon Private Bank in Singapore. The bank is owned by Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Co, which had guaranteed billions of dollars of 1MDB's bonds. The funds were from a company called Tanore Finance.