Frozen bank accounts not Najib's: Task force

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak speaking at a presentation for government interns at the Prime Minster's office.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak speaking at a presentation for government interns at the Prime Minster's office. PHOTO: REUTERS

PETALING JAYA • None of the six bank accounts frozen on Tuesday by Malaysian authorities belonged to Prime Minister Najib Razak, a special task force said yesterday, as the Malaysian leader instructed his lawyers to send a legal letter to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

The Premier is being probed by a multi-agency Malaysian task force following allegations in the WSJ that funds from state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) had ended up in Datuk Seri Najib's personal accounts.

Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail said the accounts frozen did not belong to Datuk Seri Najib, after media reports on Tuesday quoted investigation sources as saying three of the six accounts belonged to the Premier. Tan Sri Gani expressed concern that there were leaks to the media about the probe.

Meanwhile, Mr Najib's lawyers have sent a letter dated yesterday to Dow Jones and Company, the owner of WSJ.

His law firm, Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak, said it was seeking "to procure your position" as the articles collectively "suggest that you are unsure of the original source of the money and what happened to the money", while on the other hand, "the general gist of the articles creates a clear impression that our client had misappropriated about US$700 million (S$940 million) belonging to 1MDB".

"You will no doubt appreciate the seriousness of the allegation made against our client in the articles and this confirmation sought (is) to enable us to advise our client on the appropriate legal recourse he can take to seek redress in relation to the articles," said the letter signed by Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun.

The letter said the articles, written by Simon Clark and Tom Wright, titled Malaysian Leader's Accounts Probed and Scandal In Malaysia carried a "plethora of convoluted, scurrilous and vague allegations against our client".

"We demand a reply within 14 days and please let us know whether you have appointed solicitors in Malaysia to accept service legal proceedings," it said.

The law firm said it has instructions to "tackle all possible or plausible legal remedies of which our client shall be given advice on an action of defamation, further tortuous actions and remedies including any statutory violations by WSJ and related companies and (if any) conspirers".

"This is not a straightforward legal action due to the national and international imputations. We have been instructed to identify facts and lay full facts before our client is able to proceed with further instructions," it said.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2015, with the headline 'Frozen bank accounts not Najib's: Task force'. Print Edition | Subscribe