JAKARTA • Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said yesterday that recent lawsuits by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) do not involve him, the Malaysian government or sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) directly.
Last month, US Attorney-General Loretta Lynch announced a civil action seeking the recovery of more than US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion) worth of assets linked to a conspiracy to launder funds taken from 1MDB.
Datuk Seri Najib has come under attack from the Malaysian opposition and sections of the public over allegations of corruption linked to the debt-laden 1MDB and deposits into his personal account worth around US$680 million.
He has denied any wrongdoing and maintains that the source of the money was not 1MDB. He has also said those funds were not used for personal gain.
Malaysia's Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali said in January that the money was a gift from the Saudi royal family, and most of it was subsequently returned.
"I want to say that what was done by the DOJ recently does not involve me, or the Malaysian government, or 1MDB directly," Mr Najib told Indonesian television station Metro TV. "This is not a criminal suit, but a civil suit," said Mr Najib, who was on a visit to Jakarta earlier in the week.
The 1MDB issue is a business issue but it has been politicised by "certain enemies", he added.
When asked about his relationship with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, one of his strongest critics, Mr Najib said the former Malaysian premier is "obsessed about control".
"Dr Mahathir did strongly support me in the past and has been my mentor, but he has a controlling tendency," Mr Najib said.
He added that Dr Mahathir wants to play a role in state decisions even though he is no longer prime minister. In March, Dr Mahathir filed a suit against Mr Najib, alleging corruption and abuse of power.
The 91-year old former prime minister is expected to soon launch a new political party in another bid to oust Mr Najib from power.