Malaysia says Aussie article linking Najib to bribery scandal is baseless

The office of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has denounced as baseless an article that appeared in two Australian papers linking the PM to a bribery scandal.
The office of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has denounced as baseless an article that appeared in two Australian papers linking the PM to a bribery scandal. PHOTO: AFP

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has rejected an article published by Australian dailies linking Najib Razak to a bribery scandal, saying it contained "baseless smears and insinuations."

In a statement, the PMO said the article published in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) was a desperate attempt to link the work done by Najib while he was the Deputy Prime Minister with the alleged wrongdoings of middlemen.

"The article does not contain a single direct allegation about the Prime Minister, and for good reason.

"There are none to be made and there is not one shred of evidence that the Prime Minister was in any way involved in the case that the courts have already made judgements on, with individuals convicted and punished," the PMO said.

It said The Age and SMH, both owned by Australia's Fairfax Media Group, were aware of this and yet the article persistently "attempts to mislead and imply" that not only did Najib had some involvement, but he might also have been a beneficiary of any alleged wrongdoing.

"Instead of providing evidence to link the Prime Minister to the case, the article relies heavily on a series of slippery, non-conclusive words - "suspected", "alleged", "suggesting" - to lead the reader into thinking that the Prime Minister is guilty by association.

The PMO said Najib has instructed his legal counsel to take all action possible against the two dailies.

SMH reported that Malaysia is blocking the Australian government's requests for information over a corruption scandal which may involve Najib. It said senior officials in Canberra were aware of intelligence that implicated people in the offices of both Najib and his predecessor Abdullah Badawi in allegedly improper dealings involving two Australian Reserve Bank firms over contracts to print polymer bank notes.

The two firms were Securency and Note Printing Australia.

But Malaysia has ignored a formal mutual assistance request from the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department to hand over sensitive information about the financial dealings of a group of Malaysian middlemen embroiled in the case

The scandal, the paper said, involved allegations that Malaysian officials were to be paid off in return for Securency and Note Printing winning contracts to turn Malaysia's currency from paper notes to polymer between the late 1990s and 2009.

In 2011, the Australian police charged Securency, Note Printing and several of their former senior managers with bribing officials in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam between 1999 and 2005.