KUALA LUMPUR - It has never been Umno's practice to place money from political donations in the personal accounts of trustees, Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said in his blog on Monday, rejecting claims that he had done the same during his tenure.
Dr Mahathir said while he was the Umno president, he was one of three trustees who ensured that all political donations were deposited into a bank account which was held in trust for the party, Malaysian Insider reported.
He said he ensured that all the money, shares and other title deeds in Umno's possession were transferred to his successor Abdullah Badawi.
"Not a single sen from funds donated for elections was put into my account," the news portal quoted Dr Mahathir as saying in his Malay-language blog post.
"Throughout my 22 years (as prime minister) I was prepared to have all my personal accounts examined by those without any vested interest to verify if my claims were true or not."
Dr Mahathir dismissed claims that political donations had also gone into his personal accounts as "baseless" and "slander", according to Malaysian Insider.
He recounted his experience in the 1964 and 1969 general elections, when RM20,000 (S$7,157) from the Umno headquarters were handed over to him to be distributed to parliamentary and state constituencies
"Because I was not willing to keep the RM20,000 cash, I deposited it into my account and I issued cheques to the Dewan Rakyat and state assembly election committees in accordance to the distribution amount set by the headquarters.
"The money was not from donors but it was Umno's money that was given to divisions for the candidates to use," he added.
On Saturday, Bernama news agency reported that the Umno constitution provides for the party president to have a trust account on behalf of the party.
BN's strategic communications director and Umno member Abdul Rahman Dahlan said it was not only Najib who had a trust account on behalf of Umno, but also the previous Umno presidents.
Rahman, who is also urban well-being, housing and local government minister, said the money currently in a trust account under Najib's name as the Umno president was not from 1MDB or public funds, Bernama reported.
Donations to Umno from the past up to now are from party supporters, he said.
The Wall Street Journal had alleged that US$700 million (S$96 million) linked to troubled state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was transferred to Najib's accounts over the past two years.
Najib has denied using state funds for personal gain but has yet to clarify whether the money was funnelled into his accounts. He has accused Dr Mahathir of working with foreign agents to topple his administration.