Malaysia may bar political donations from govt-linked companies

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was cleared of graft in January, after it was revealed that US$681 million made its way to his personal bank account.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was cleared of graft in January, after it was revealed that US$681 million made its way to his personal bank account.PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (Bloomberg) - Malaysia may bar government-linked companies and those who stand to benefit from public contracts from making political donations, in an effort to tighten rules on such funding before the next election.

A committee looking at the matter may also recommend that private donations from abroad be prohibited, even if the money is held by Malaysians, said Paul Low, minister in the Prime Minister's Department.

The committee aims to complete a report by July, he said.

"The key criteria is to determine the extent of conflict of interest," Low told reporters in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday (May 25).

The move to streamline donation rules comes after a year of funding scandals in the country, and before an election due by 2018. Prime Minister Najib Razak was cleared in January of graft after revelations that US$681 million (S$940 million) made its way into his personal bank accounts before the last election, held in 2013.

The government said the money came from the Saudi royal family and was a private donation, and that most of it was later returned. Najib has denied any wrongdoing.

The premier announced the formation of the committee in August.