Malaysia's anti-corruption agency said it will summon Prime Minister Najib Razak to explain a US$700 million (S$960 million) donation, while confirming for the first time that the money came from Middle- Eastern sources.
In a statement last night, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said it obtained details of the donors from bank documents and also found four letters submitted to the bank when the money was deposited into Datuk Seri Najib's personal bank accounts.
"The documents stated that the... sum was a donation," the statement said. "MACC has obtained an explanation from the donors who originated from the Middle East and they have verified the donation."
The anti-graft agency said it could not reveal the identities of the donors, but reiterated the donation had no connection to troubled state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) as alleged by The Wall Street Journal last month.
Mr Najib, who is 1MDB's chief adviser, has been under intense pressure since the allegations emerged, but has denied that the money was transferred from 1MDB.
The statement yesterday also suggested that the Special Task Force - comprising the police, the central bank, the MACC and the Attorney- General's Chambers - investigating the 1MDB scandal had been disbanded.
The MACC said it had been advised by newly appointed Attorney-General Apandi Ali that there is "no need for a special task force" and that the investigating agencies involved can carry out their duties according to the respective laws.
The agency also said that it would continue working on the case.
The news comes amid a widening investigation by the police into alleged leakages by task force investigators in the 1MDB probe, which had purportedly led to the damaging exposes against Mr Najib.
Local media reported that at least three more MACC officers were called up for questioning yesterday, bringing the total number to nine.
The MACC's Special Operations Division's office was also raided, the Malaysiakini news portal said.
An MACC spokesman also told The Straits Times that the agency's chief, Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed, is on leave to deal with "personal matters". He is set to return to work next Friday.
The police investigation has prompted criticisms from many quarters, with opposition politician and Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali calling it a "gross interference" of the 1MDB probe.
"These acts of harassment, intimidation and detention are clearly aimed at obstructing the smooth progress of the investigations," he said.
Prominent banker Nazir Razak, who is the Prime Minister's younger brother, yesterday came to the defence of respected central bank governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, whose organisation is part of the Special Task Force.
Amid rumours of Tan Sri Zeti stepping down, he posted a picture of himself with her and International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde with the caption: "My moment with 2 icons of global finance."
In a separate development, the High Court allowed The Edge Media Group to challenge the Home Ministry's suspension of its publications. The publisher of The Edge Financial Daily and The Edge Weekly, which reported extensively on 1MDB's alleged financial mismanagement, was granted leave to contest the suspension, but the court did not allow the suspension to be temporarily lifted.
The government had suspended the two publications for three months starting July 27, claiming that its 1MDB reports were unverified and prejudicial.