$985m donation to Malaysian PM Najib Razak's accounts: DPM verifies money trail

BATU PAHAT • Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said yesterday he had met the wealthy Arab family who had donated the US$700 million (S$985 million) channelled into Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal accounts, The Star reported.

Datuk Seri Zahid said the family, whom he did not name, had donated the money because of Malaysia's commitment to fighting terrorism, and for being a moderate Muslim country with a plural society.

The family, he said, was impressed by how Malaysia managed to remain moderate without sidelining other religions.

"Those were the answers given to me when I asked them the reason for their donation. They also told me that Malaysia was not the only country they have donated money to," The Star quoted him as saying at the opening of the Sri Gading Umno division meeting yesterday.

"They have also helped other Islamic countries," Mr Zahid, who is also Home Minister, added.

He also said he had met the investment officer of the family, who explained how the first US$100 million was given via a cheque under Datuk Seri Najib's name and the rest through other channels.

"I saw the documents myself - the original documents, not photocopied ones, and I also saw the money trail," he added.

Mr Zahid said the donation was 100 per cent from the Arab family and not from the Retirement Fund or 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The Malaysian government has sought to reassure the public that the funds transferred to Mr Najib's accounts in the run-up to the 2013 elections were purely for the Umno party and that there was no misuse of the funds.

Yesterday, Mr Najib told an Umno divisional meeting in Alor Setar, Kedah, that he considered it better to explain the issues related to the funds in private rather than discussing it openly.

"I can explain. No problem, but not openly because it can affect the party," the Prime Minister was quoted as saying by The Malaysian Insider, noting that the opposition parties had not explained their funds.

The Wall Street Journal last month reported that the funds came from state agency 1MDB.

Mr Najib is Finance Minister and chairman of 1MDB's board of advisers.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday stressed that its probe into the transferred funds had not been closed, The Star reported.

In a statement yesterday, MACC clarified that neither its chief, Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed, nor the commission itself had ever declared the investigations had been closed, contrary to suggestions otherwise.

"As was said in the Aug 3 and 5 press statements, we would like to reiterate that the MACC had only said that the RM2.6 billion in funds are from a Middle Eastern donor and not from 1MDB," said the commission.

MACC stressed that investigations concerning former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International were ongoing.

According to The Wall Street Journal, RM42 million from SRC International - a 1MDB subsidiary before coming under the full ownership of the Finance Ministry in 2012 - ended up in Mr Najib's personal accounts via Ihsan Perdana.

MACC has issued a notice saying that it wants to interview businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, who is close to Mr Najib's family, and two other men in relation to a probe into SRC International.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2015, with the headline '$985m donation: Malaysian DPM verifies money trail'. Print Edition | Subscribe