Anti-graft officials query Najib on funds in accounts

KUALA LUMPUR • Prime Minister Najib Razak has been queried by anti-graft officials on the hundreds of millions of dollars that ended up in his private accounts before the 2013 general election.

Datuk Seri Najib was cooperative during the questioning in a meeting yesterday that lasted 21/2 hours, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said in a statement. It did not provide further details.

Mr Najib, 62, has said the RM2.6 billion (S$867 million) of funds in accounts that have since been closed were political donations from the Middle East rather than public money.

That was also the initial conclusion reached by the commission in August in its preliminary investigations. 

Mr Najib has denied taking money for personal gain and has been cited as saying that the funds were to meet the needs of the party and the community, and that this was not a new practice.

The donation controversy has dogged the ruling coalition for about five months and led to periodic drops in the price of shares and in the value of the ringgit.

Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi told Parliament on Thursday that the funds were not from troubled state investment company 1Malaysia Development (1MDB), and that it would breach the law to comment further as investigations were ongoing.

Mr Najib is facing his biggest crisis since coming to power in 2009, hit by the funding imbroglio and alleged financial irregularities at debt-ridden 1MDB, whose advisory board he chairs.

The controversies have sparked political tensions within the ruling United Malays National Organisation (Umno) and led thousands of anti-government protesters to rally in the capital in August.

Umno is holding its annual general assembly meeting from Tuesday to Saturday.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 06, 2015, with the headline 'Anti-graft officials query Najib on funds in accounts'. Print Edition | Subscribe