Malaysia's respected Prime Minister Najib Razak allegedly received millions of dollars in his personal bank accounts between 2011 and 2013 from the Saudi Arabian finance ministry and two men identifying themselves as princes from the Middle Eastern nation, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
The Saudi finance ministry made deposits of about $80 million in 2011 into Najib’s accounts at a Malaysian bank, ABC’s Four Corners program reported, citing remittance statements. One person who gave his name as a Saudi prince started sending money in February 2011 and made two deposits totaling $75 million in April and May 2012, it said.
Another person who was described in letters to Najib as a prince "pledged gifts" including $100 million in February 2011, a grant of $375 million in November 2011, and $800 million in March 2013. The report did not say if the pledges translated to actual deposits.
Malaysia’s Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali in January closed the door on a graft probe of Najib, clearing him of wrongdoing over a “personal contribution” of $681 million from the Saudi royals in early 2013 ahead of a general election the ruling coalition won by its slimmest margin yet. The premier returned $620 million in August 2013 that was not utilized, Apandi said, without specifying what the rest of the funds were used for.
There was no Saudi comment in the ABC news report, and officials from the kingdom have not previously responded to Bloomberg questions on the claims about Malaysia donations.
Najib is facing his biggest political crisis since coming to power seven years ago as questions linger over the funding scandals. He has denied any wrongdoing and maintained that the funds in his accounts were not used for private benefit. His office didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment on the Four Corners’ report on the deposits and what the money was used for.
"This is an effort to tarnish the reputation of the country," Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed told reporters on Tuesday, referring to the Four Corners segment.
Funds from Najib’s accounts went to political affiliates, officials in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, and a company that runs grassroots campaigns for the alliance, according to Four Corners. Money and checks were also given to a charity named after Najib’s mother, prominent businessmen, academics, lawyers and advertising and media companies, the news program said.