Malaysian anti-graft agency chief meets PM Najib over probe into RM2.6 billion donation

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) – Malaysia’s anti-graft agency said on Thursday (Dec 3) it met with officials at Prime Minister Najib Razak’s office over investigations into 2.6 billion ringgit (S$870 million) in funds that were transferred into his bank accounts.

Najib is facing calls to step down over a graft scandal surrounding state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) that erupted in July when the Wall Street Journal reported that investigators had found that funds had been transferred into Najib’s bank accounts.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said in a statement it met the Prime Minister’s office to fix an appointment to record Najib’s statement in connection with its investigation into graft allegations at 1MDB and its subsidiary, SRC International. No further details were provided, and the agency did not specify what date the appointment was set for.

The statement came after a source told Reuters earlier on Thursday (Dec 3) that Najib would be directly questioned by the agency.

Najib had earlier made a commitment to give a statement to the anti-graft agency and was expected to take queries on the matter in the final day of parliament on Thursday (Dec 3) before it breaks until next year.

But he  skipped Parliament and instead Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told lawmakers that the government will not make any statements as the matter was under investigation.

No questions from the opposition were allowed.

Najib has denied wrongdoing or taking any money for personal gain. The MACC has already said the money was a political donation from an unidentified Middle Eastern benefactor, which the government repeated in parliament.

Opposition leaders and some establishment figures, including former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, have called for Najib to resign over his alleged involvement in the scandal.

Critics also accuse the government of dragging its feet on the investigation and even Malaysia’s royal rulers have called for a quick and transparent investigation. 

“We want proof. We want to know how 2.6 billion ringgit in PM’s account is not from 1MDB,” Mahathir said in his latest blog posting on Thursday (Dec 3), ahead of an annual gathering of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (Umno) party next week.

Najib is chairman of the 1MDB advisory board. The fund is also being investigated by law enforcement agencies in Switzerland, Hong Kong and the United States, media and sources have said.

At the end of August, tens of thousands of Malaysians rallied to call for Najib’s resignation.

The controversy has battered Malaysian markets with the ringgit losing about a quarter of its value to become Asia’s worst-performing currency this year.