PETALING JAYA • Dow Jones & Company Inc, publisher of The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), has said that it was not necessary for it to clarify if two articles published in the WSJ were intended to accuse Prime Minister Najib Razak of misappropriating 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds.
In a reply to the Prime Minister's lawyers, Dow Jones said the report published on July 2 and a subsequent opinion piece on July 6 were self-explanatory as they "were based on available facts".
"In your letter, you 'seek confirmation as to whether it is (our) position as taken in (The News Article and The Opinion) that (your) Client misappropriated nearly US$700 million belonging to 1Malaysia Development Berhad'.
"We believe your request is unnecessary as The News Article and The Opinion speak for themselves," Dow Jones' counsel and chief compliance officer Jason Conti said, as quoted by the Malay Mail Online news website.
The firm was responding to a request for confirmation from Datuk Seri Najib's lawyers, Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak Advocates & Solicitors, in a letter dated July 8.
The letter from Mr Najib's law firm had urged Dow Jones to state its position on the articles as they collectively suggested that WSJ was unsure of the original source of the money and what happened to it, yet attempted to create an impression that Mr Najib was guilty of misappropriating the US$700 million (S$956 million).
ARTICLES 'SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES'
...it is quite clear the news article is a fair and accurate summary of current events, and the opinion includes reasonable commentary based on those facts.
MR JASON CONTI, Dow Jones' counsel and chief compliance officer
However, Mr Conti noted that the July 2 article, titled "Malaysia leader's accounts probed", had expressly noted that the money trail did not indicate how the funds were spent. He also pointed out that the July 2 piece was a news report while the July 6 article, titled "Scandal in Malaysia", was an opinion piece that was based upon facts which had emerged.
"As a result, it is quite clear the news article is a fair and accurate summary of current events, and the opinion includes reasonable commentary based on those facts.
"Any suggestion otherwise is misplaced and baseless," Mr Conti said, as quoted by the Malay Mail Online.
He said the US publisher had yet to appoint legal representatives in Malaysia as legal action had yet to be taken against WSJ for its reports. "If and when you do so, we will consider the appointment of appropriate solicitors in Malaysia," Mr Conti wrote in the letter, which reached Mr Najib's lawyers on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister's law firm had given Dow Jones a 14-day deadline to confirm its accusations against Mr Najib, instead of issuing the usual letter of demand.
Attempts to reach Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun, who is one of Mr Najib's lawyers, were unsuccessful. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK