Najib grilled over fund transfers

Datuk Seri Najib Razak (centre) arriving at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's headquarters in Putrajaya yesterday. In brief remarks later, he said the probe by a team of officers was conducted professionally and he was given a half-hour brea
Datuk Seri Najib Razak (centre) arriving at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's headquarters in Putrajaya yesterday. In brief remarks later, he said the probe by a team of officers was conducted professionally and he was given a half-hour break.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

He is questioned on former 1MDB subsidiary SRC, and must return tomorrow to give more answers

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak was grilled for several hours yesterday by anti-graft investigators over suspicious transfers of funds to a state-owned entity.

He will return tomorrow to give a further statement on the issue, he told reporters at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Putrajaya.

Datuk Seri Najib said he was questioned about SRC International, a former subsidiary of state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). He had been summoned by the MACC last Friday, raising speculation that he would be arrested yesterday.

But MACC chief Mohd Shukri Abdull told reporters at a press conference that Mr Najib was asked to come to provide a statement to the agency after new information surfaced in its probe of SRC.

"It's to provide a statement, not to arrest him," Datuk Seri Shukri told reporters at a press conference at 11.30am.

The former prime minister arrived at MACC headquarters at 9.40am, ahead of his 10am appointment with the investigators.

Wearing a blue blazer, Mr Najib flashed a smile at the throng of waiting media before he entered the building but did not respond to requests for comments.

He emerged more than five hours later, at 3.15pm, though he told reporters that the questioning had taken place from 10am to 2.15pm.

In brief remarks, he said that the probe by a team of officers was conducted professionally and he was given a half-hour break.

"I gave a statement in 2015 on the issue of SRC. My statement today is an extension of that in more detail, and is to verify some documents," he said.

Mr Najib's morning appearance came after a night of 11th-hour changes to his legal team, which accompanied him to MACC yesterday.

Lawyer Harpal Singh Grewal told local media that he and his colleague M. Athimulan had not been fired but withdrew themselves from the team, now being led by former solicitor-general Mohd Yusof Zainal Abidin.

Since Mr Najib's government was voted out on May 9, the new government led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has opened investigations into how billions of dollars disappeared from the debt-ridden 1MDB.

Mr Najib has denied accusations of corruption and that he abused his power as prime minister and finance minister.

Earlier, over the weekend, police raided a house belonging to a high-ranking female officer connected to Mr Najib. She is believed to be Datuk Hasanah Ab Hamid, head of the Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation, a unit under the Prime Minister's Department.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2018, with the headline 'Najib grilled over fund transfers'. Print Edition | Subscribe