News analysis

1MDB fallout reveals use of charities for political funding

New study shows these dubious non-profit agencies have evaded national audit for decades

The revelation in 2015 that RM2.6 billion (S$839 million) of public funds were funnelled into then Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal account remains the most stunning expose of the scandal at state fund 1MDB, but the fall of his Umno-led Barisan Nasional administration three years later prised open the lid on how taxpayers' money had been abused for political financing via dubious foundations.

Criminal cases and forfeiture suits have revealed how public monies have been received by these "yayasans", controlled by those in power, as well as private donations in exchange for political favours.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 25, 2021, with the headline '1MDB fallout reveals use of charities for political funding'. Subscribe