Malaysia PM to respond alleged corruption scandal

Prime Minister Najib Razak to answer all questions surrounding $600 million, claiming state funds are transferred into his bank account

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is set to answer all questions surrounding $600 million allegedly found in his personal bank accounts during the current parliamentary sitting, according to the minister in charge of parliament.

Azalina Othman Said said in a written reply to two opposition lawmakers Tuesday that the premier would explain who the donor was and where the funds came from during the current parliamentary session -- due to end Dec. 3.

“This question will be answered simultaneously with all other questions on the same issue at a date to be fixed later in the current parliamentary meeting,” Said replied to Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng and Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng.

She was replying to Lim Guan Eng, who had asked Razak to reveal the source of the 2.6 billion ringgit ($610 million) in his personal bank accounts, how the money was used and who the recipients were.

The amount was initially $700 million, but the value of the ringgit has fallen dramatically since the allegation surfaced in July.

Guan Eng had also asked if Razak had paid any taxes for the sum or made any form of official declaration, what funds remained, as well as details of the accounts where the money was parked.

Lip Eng, meanwhile, queried the details of the donor and how the fund was utilised. He also asked about an alleged $993 million missing from state-owned firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

In July, international probes into the debt-ridden 1MDB had claimed that billions of ringgit from the latter was channeled to personal bank accounts belonging to Razak.

The Wall Street Journal and whistle blower site Sarawak Report released reports quoting documents from the ongoing 1MDB probe claiming that 2.6 billion ringgit had moved between government agencies, banks and entities linked to 1MDB to finally end up in the prime minister's personal accounts as five separate deposits.

Clarifying his position, Razak had immediately responded that he did not take funds for personal gain as alleged by political opponents, whether from 1MDB, Finance Ministry-owned SRC International or other entities.

A month later, the Attorney-General's chambers revealed that the funds were political donations to the Razak-led United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) to help the party remain in power during the last general election in May 2013.

Politicians within UMNO later clarified that the funds came from "Middle East royals" who wanted the party to retain power.

Razak, however, has remained silent on the matter, saying political donations are confidential and that he will only reveal the donors if opposition parties agree to follow suit.

On Aug. 3, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission ruled that the money came from personal donations, and not from 1MDB.

1MDB, a finance ministry-owned investment vehicle established in 2009, has run up debts of 42 billion ringgit in just six years of business.