Najib 'had bank approval for $881m transfer to his account'

DR MOHD PUAD ZARKASHI (above), Umno Supreme Council member and director-general of the government's Department of Special Affairs (JASA), speaking to Malaysian students in Canberra
DR MOHD PUAD ZARKASHI (above), Umno Supreme Council member and director-general of the government's Department of Special Affairs (JASA), speaking to Malaysian students in Canberra

Money said to be from Saudi king to fight extremism, not from state fund 1MDB

Malaysia's former central bank governor Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz granted permission for a RM2.6 billion (S$881 million) deposit into Prime Minister Najib Razak's account, according to the Malaysiakini news website yesterday.

It said the revelation was made by Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi, an Umno Supreme Council member who is also the director-general of the government's Department of Special Affairs (JASA), when he held a talk with Malaysian students in Canberra, the Australian capital.

"Depositing into his personal account in the country would require Bank Negara's approval and he had discussed it with the Bank Negara governor, documents had to be filled," Dr Puad was quoted as saying by the news site.

Dr Puad said that Umno leaders sought a meeting with Mr Najib soon after a Wall Street Journal report disclosed the transfer of funds which it alleged had come from the beleaguered state investment firm 1MDB.

"When we arrived at his home, we asked Najib if he indeed received RM2.6 billion, he said 'correct'. He didn't deny it and he said he had Bank Negara documents of the approval to transfer the money into his personal bank accounts."

NAJIB DIDN'T DENY LARGE MONEY TRANSFER

When we arrived at his home, we asked Najib if he indeed received RM2.6 billion (S$881 million), he said correct. He didn't deny it and he said he had Bank Negara documents of the approval to transfer the money into his personal bank accounts.

'' DR MOHD PUAD ZARKASHI (top left), Umno Supreme Council member and director-general of the government's Department of Special Affairs (JASA), speaking to Malaysian students in Canberra

Dr Puad also said that Mr Najib suspected that information about the transfer was likely leaked by a central bank officer or an employee of Ambank, where the money was deposited.

The Umno Supreme Council member said Mr Najib denied the money originated from 1MDB, saying that it was from the Saudi king.

"We already knew that night. It was a contribution from the Saudi king and it was not deposited into (Umno's) official account as the purpose was to combat the Islamic State, and secondly, to help in other places such as in Palestine and others," Dr Puad said.

"That was what we were told. That is why we remained silent.

"He said if the money was for his personal use, it would be better for him to keep them in his overseas personal bank account," Dr Puad was quoted as saying.

Malaysiakini said he also told the students that the notion that the government was not consistent in explaining the RM2.6 billion saga was merely an issue of perception.

"Actually, Najib's answers had been consistent. He is also not in the wrong in terms of the political donation."

He also told the students that there was no law against political donation in Malaysia, adding that the government also knew where other parties were getting their funding.

"We know Berjaya group gives to who, YTL gives to who, but no one in Bank Negara leaked them," he said.

Mr Najib has weathered intense pressure to quit in the face of allegations of graft and financial mismanagement at 1MDB with former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad leading the charge against him.

The Prime Minister, however, appears secure in office after reshuffling his cabinet and booting out his main critics.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 22, 2016, with the headline 'Najib 'had bank approval for $881m transfer to his account''. Print Edition | Subscribe