Malaysian central bank's land buy from Najib govt under scrutiny

An independent review is underway into the Malaysian central bank's RM2 billion (S$662.58 million) purchase of land from the government during Najib Razak's premiership.
An independent review is underway into the Malaysian central bank's RM2 billion (S$662.58 million) purchase of land from the government during Najib Razak's premiership.PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's central bank said yesterday an independent review was under way into its RM2 billion (S$663 million) purchase of land from the government during Najib Razak's premiership.

Days after Najib lost an election in May, Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim resigned as central bank governor, having earlier overseen and defended the purchase, which was completed in January.

Other officers have taken leave pending the outcome of the review that began in August, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said in a statement.

Soon after the formation of the new government five months ago, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the money paid by the central bank for the land was used by Najib's administration to cover some of the liabilities of state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Najib is facing multiple corruption charges resulting from a probe into how billions of dollars went missing from 1MDB. He has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing.

Najib's unexpected election defeat in May resulted in veteran leader Mahathir Mohamad returning as prime minister 15 years after he retired.

Tun Dr Mahathir is seeking to retrieve funds lost by 1MDB.

The fund, founded by Najib, is the subject of money laundering and corruption investigations in at least six countries, including Malaysia, Singapore and the United States.

When asked about the central bank's statement yesterday, Dr Mahathir said someone in BNM "obviously knows" what happened to the proceeds of the central bank's land purchase from the finance ministry.

 

"I only know that the land was sold to Bank Negara for RM2 billion. What happens after that I don't know. Where the money goes, I don't know.

"But obviously somebody in Bank Negara knows about it. They are investigating. That's all," he told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.

REUTERS, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2018, with the headline 'Malaysian central bank's land buy from Najib govt under scrutiny'. Print Edition | Subscribe