KL refutes WSJ's claim of over $1.4b in Najib's accounts

The US paper was "repeating the same old allegations" against PM Najib (left), said a government spokesman.
The US paper was "repeating the same old allegations" against PM Najib (left), said a government spokesman.

Malaysia's government yesterday refuted allegations in a Wall Street Journal report claiming that more than US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) was deposited into Prime Minister Najib Razak's bank accounts, hundreds of millions more than previously reported.

A Malaysian government spokesman said in a statement that WSJ was "repeating the same old allegations without providing evidence" and "has become a willing vehicle" for the "Anti-Najib Campaign".

The business newspaper yesterday quoted unnamed global investigators as saying most of the funds were believed to be from state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

WSJ also said part of the funds was "returned".

Responding to the WSJ report, former premier Mahathir Mohamad said that Datuk Seri Najib should sue the newspaper if the allegations were untrue. "If he doesn't, then there must be some truth to what was said," he told reporters .

The spokesman said the funds were a donation from Saudi Arabia and not from 1MDB, as stated also by the Attorney-General and other Malaysian authorities.

"This included Malaysian authorities travelling to Saudi Arabia to examine documentation and interview members of the Royal Family and officials that administered the donation.

"The Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia has also confirmed that the funds came from Saudi Arabia," he said.

The statement did not address WSJ's allegations of the extra "hundreds of millions" that it claimed originated from 1MDB.

Mr Najib had mulled over suing WSJ last year when the newspaper first published a report claiming US$681 million had been channelled into his private accounts from 1MDB.

A letter of demand was sent to WSJ last July but no charges have been filed since then.

His lawyer said yesterday that it was pointless to sue the newspaper if it was going to invoke immunity under the United States' Speech Act, which makes foreign libel judgments unenforceable in US courts.

"I will only advise my client (Mr Najib) to proceed if WSJ confirms that it will not invoke the Speech Act," Datuk Hafarizam Harun, one of the Premier's lawyers, told The Straits Times.

1MDB also refuted the WSJ report in a statement yesterday, saying that the state fund had never paid any funds into the Prime Minister's personal accounts.

"Not once has the publication (WSJ) offered any conclusive evidence to support its claims," 1MDB said.

Mr Najib is in Saudi Arabia for a four-day working visit until tomorrow. He is to slated to meet King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the successor to King Abdullah who allegedly gave Mr Najib the huge donation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2016, with the headline 'KL refutes WSJ's claim of over $1.4b in Najib's accounts'. Print Edition | Subscribe