KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi reiterated on Thursday (Dec 3) that the funds deposited in the prime minister's personal bank accounts was from donations but he could not elaborate on the money, citing subjudice.
In his much-awaited statement to lawmakers, Mr Zahid reiterated that the RM2.6 billion (S$861.4 million) was not from debt-ridden state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Bloomberg reported.
The funds scandal involving Prime Minister Najib Razak has overshadowed the ruling coalition for more than four months and led to periodic drops in stocks and the ringgit.
In the address made on Mr Najib’s behalf, Mr Zahid said investigations are ongoing and it would breach the law to comment further.
Lawmakers including some from the ruling Umno party have sought an explanation for the funds that appeared in the premier’s accounts before the general elections in 2013.
But the speaker of the house said after Mr Zahid’s statement that no questions were allowed, Bloomberg reported.
Mr Najib, 62, has said the funds were political donations from the Middle East rather than public money, an initial conclusion also reached by the anti-corruption commission.
Mr Zahid said the money was to meet the needs of the party and the community and not a new practice.
“In a democracy, the practice of receiving donations is allowed for political parties,” he said. “It has never been stated that political donations must be declared.”
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has identified the individual who donated the money, he said, without elaborating.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) had alleged that the money came from firms linked to 1MDB, but Mr Najib has denied taking any funds for personal gain.