KUALA LUMPUR - Opposition politicians in Malaysia demanded that actions be taken against Prime Minister Najib Razak, including freezing his personal bank accounts and investigating him for corruption, after a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article claimed that state funds were transferred to him from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Sarawak Chairman of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Baru Bian, called on Najib "to do the honourable thing and step down", pending investigations into the claims, the Malaysian Insider reported.
He also asked that Najib's accounts be frozen "as would have happened to ordinary Malaysian suspected of criminal breach of trust", according to the news portal.
"The denial by 1MDB is meaningless to Malaysians who are getting increasingly angry about the mismanagement of the country's finances and the instances of corruption being unearthed almost daily,'' he was quoted as saying.
Democratic Action Party (DAP) MP Tony Pua said Najib and 1MDB must be investigated by both the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for possible embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds, criminal breach of trust as well as corrupt practices, the Free Malaysia Online reported.
The probe should also include Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia (YR1M), the charity foundation under the prime minister, and Genting Berhad, Pua was quoted as saying.
WSJ published an article on Friday quoting an "unnamed investigator", claiming that almost US$700 million (S$943 million) of 1MDB funds went into the prime minister's personal accounts through government agencies, banks and companies linked to 1MDB.
The newspaper cited documents which it said it had obtained, including bank transfer forms and flow charts prepared by government investigators, as the basis for its report.
In a Facebook posting late Friday night, the Malaysian leader accused former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad of being behind the latest attack.
"The latest allegation is that I have taken state-linked funds for personal gain. I believe Tun, working hand in glove with foreign nationals, including the now discredited political attack blog Sarawak Report, is behind this latest lie,'' he said.
"Let me be very clear: I have never taken funds for personal gain as alleged by my political opponents - whether from 1MDB, SRC International or other entities, as these companies have confirmed,'' he stressed.
Second Finance Minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah said on Saturday that rumour mongering about 1MDB and the government will only sabotage the country's economy and future, The Star news website reported.
"This will cause negative market sentiments and investors to pull out. The value of our currency to fall further.
"They are sabotaging our economy and the future of our nation," the minister was quoted as saying.
The Star also quoted Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin as saying the allegations against Najib were unacceptable as they had not been substantiated by concrete proof and documents.
He said the disclosure by WSJ was based on the report by website Sarawak Report, whose authenticity has been disputed.
The WSJ said on Saturday that it is standing by its report that billions of ringgit were channelled into Najib's personal accounts, saying that their investigation was based on solid documentation.
"We were very careful and we believe the investigation and documents we have are solid and come from a reliable investigation and not a political investigation,'' said its Hong Kong Bureau chief Ken Brown.