Malaysia's police chief says Umno has to go through proper channels to get back party funds

Umno said it is seeking to recover party funds seized by police from residential units linked to Datuk Seri Najib Razak. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's police chief on Friday (May 25) said Umno has to go through the proper channels for the return of party funds it said were seized as part of investigations into the troubled 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund.

Umno, Malaysia's biggest political party, was led by then Prime Minister Najib Razak prior to his resignation following the party's loss at the May 9 general election.

It said on Thursday that it was seeking to recover party funds seized by police from residential units linked to Datuk Seri Najib, who founded 1MDB as finance minister shortly after becoming premier in 2009.

Umno had claimed that the money was in the process of being transferred to the party's acting leadership following Mr Najib's resignation on May 12.

Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said on Friday that any claims or allegations in connection with the seized funds must follow the rule of law.

"The investigation is still ongoing. We have to get to the bottom of the matter first," he said. "Any demands or applications must follow the proper channels," he told a press conference.

The police said on Friday that the cash seized amounted to RM114 million (S$38.4 million).

They said the cash, seized during the raid at the luxurious Pavilion Residences in central Kuala Lumpur last week, was in 26 different currencies and stashed in 35 bags.

Umno's communications team had on Thursday said the party Constitution allowed for its presidents to source and manage party funds, including those for general elections.

"This was no different from our former president Najib, who sourced for campaign contributions prior to the 14th general election and was managing our party's funds," it said.

"However, the remainder of these funds was seized by police after Najib stepped down as Umno and Barisan Nasional president and before they could be transferred to the current acting leadership," the party added.

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