Malaysia: Prime Minister Razak Cleared in US $681 Million Corruption Case
Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali has cleared Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak of corruption after concluding that a US$ 681 million transfer into Najib’s bank account in early 2013 was a gift from the Saudi royal family, according to the BBC.
There is no evidence to show that the donation was a form of gratification given corruptly," Ali said, adding that anti-corruption officials met the person who was identified as the donor to confirm the donation.
According to the Wall Street Journal, US $620 million was returned to the Saudis five months later, with Saudi Arabia asking for nothing in return.
The BBC reports that critics allege that the money came from the state-owned investment fund 1MDB, whose advisory board Najib chairs, and which is now having trouble paying back US$ 11 billion in debt, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The case has attracted significant controversy in Malaysia, where some critics allege that the donation was used to buy personal support within the leadership. They question the whereabouts of the remaining US$ 61 million, according to the BBC.
Others are asking if the attorney general is providing cover for the prime minister because he has “provided no new or convincing information on whether the massive funds were bona fide,” said Tony Pua, an opposition lawmaker.
Najib had sacked the previous attorney general, who was leading the investigation, for “health reasons” as part of a larger government reshuffle that dismissed several officials critical of the prime minister, according to the Guardian.
Those close to Najib have come under scrutiny in the United States, with the New York Times reporting that a federal grand jury is examining allegations of corruption involving Najib in relation to property purchased by a stepson and other real estate linked to a close family friend.