Najib wants $39m seized in May returned

Former Malaysian premier Najib Razak being escorted by police officers at the Kuala Lumpur High Court last month. He posted a statement on his Facebook page yesterday regarding the RM116.7 million (S$39 million) seized in May from premises linked to
Former Malaysian premier Najib Razak being escorted by police officers at the Kuala Lumpur High Court last month. He posted a statement on his Facebook page yesterday regarding the RM116.7 million (S$39 million) seized in May from premises linked to him. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Ex-Malaysian PM says most of it belonged to Umno, and no legal action has been taken over funds

PETALING JAYA • Former Malaysian premier Najib Razak wants the police to return the RM116.7 million (S$39 million) seized in May from premises linked to him, because no legal action has been taken regarding the funds in over three months.

He claims most of the funds belonged to political party Umno, which he had headed until he stepped down as president after losing the general election in May.

"I have commented on the matter numerous times in the local media but I choose to explain in more detail as the police still insist on not returning the money," he said in a statement on his Facebook page yesterday. Najib insisted that the money should be returned as it has been more than three months since its seizure and, according to the law, it must be returned if no prosecution has been made.

The funds formed part of a haul of cash, jewellery, watches and handbags worth a total of between RM900 million and RM1.1 billion that was seized in police raids as part of investigations into state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Najib currently faces charges of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money-laundering relating to RM42 million allegedly transferred into his accounts from SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1MDB.

Najib also explained that it was normal practice for the Umno president to handle donations and party assets, including transferring and making payments during elections.

"Such tasks and rights are enshrined in the party's Constitution and it has been so since the tenure of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (as president)," he said, referring to Prime Minister Mahathir who used to helm Umno and now leads the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition.

NORMAL PRACTICE

Such tasks and rights are enshrined in the party's Constitution and it has been so since the tenure of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (as president).

FORMER MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER NAJIB RAZAK, explaining that it was normal practice for the Umno president to handle donations and party assets, including transferring and making payments during elections.

VAULT AND SAFE BUILT

When Dr Mahathir built the Prime Minister's Office and Seri Perdana (the Prime Minister's official residence), he also ensured that a vault and a safe were built at the respective locations. These are the locations where the cash received was stored for the purposes of political and election operations, including settling various bills after the elections as well as funds for branches' operations.

NAJIB, explaining that the cash was transferred to the Pavilion Residences in Kuala Lumpur after the May election loss.

"When Dr Mahathir built the Prime Minister's Office and Seri Perdana (the Prime Minister's official residence), he also ensured that a vault and a safe were built at the respective locations. These are the locations where the cash received was stored for the purposes of political and election operations, including settling various bills after the elections as well as funds for branches' operations," he said.

After Najib's Barisan Nasional coalition unexpectedly lost in the May elections, the cash was transferred to the Pavilion Residences in Kuala Lumpur, he explained.

"The police raided the apartment and seized the money even before we could make a decision on how to manage the cash while waiting for who will take over as the new party president," he said.

 
 

"I reaffirm again that it is party funds, thus Umno has sought legal representatives to negotiate with the authorities to return the money," said Najib.

In June, the police announced that the cash seized amounted to RM116.7 million in 26 currencies.

Najib said in his post yesterday that most of the money was in ringgit while only a small portion of the cash was in foreign currencies.

He explained that anyone who often travels overseas for work and leisure was bound to have unused foreign currencies at their homes. "It is no different for me and my family," he said.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2018, with the headline 'Najib wants $39m seized in May returned'. Print Edition | Subscribe