RM2.6b donation just another twist in 1MDB tale, critics say

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak attends the Finance Ministry’s Aidilfitri celebration at the Finance Ministry Complex, Putrajaya, August 3, 2015. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak attends the Finance Ministry’s Aidilfitri celebration at the Finance Ministry Complex, Putrajaya, August 3, 2015. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 4 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak still has a ways to go to disentangle himself from the complicated 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) web, several opposition leaders said after graftbusters confirmed yesterday that the state investor had not pumped RM2.6 billion into the prime minister’s accounts.

They said the revelation neither exonerated Najib nor solved the mystery of 1MDB’s reported RM42 billion debt pile, but had instead given Malaysians more questions to rain on the embattled prime minister.

“How does MACC  (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) know it’s not from 1MDB? Where has the money gone and was it used for the 13th general election? And who were the political parties and candidates that received the money?” asked DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang after the MACC’s vague explanation on the RM2.6 billion yesterday.

In its statement, the commission had confirmed that the sum was deposited into Najib’s accounts but it said it came from “donors and not 1MDB”.

Although the MACC kept mum on the donors’ identities and how the contribution was spent, its conclusion did, however, finally lay to rest weeks of debate over the truth behind the July 2 expose by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that first mentioned the deposits.

In its article, the international business daily had cited documents from the 1MDB probe that it said showed how investigators had traced the money to Najib’s accounts.

The contents of the report had set tongues wagging here and forced government leaders to urge for calm as a special taskforce of top enforcement agencies including the MACC looked into the claims.

To PKR’s Rafizi Ramli, however, MACC’s explanation on the RM2.6 billion solved nothing in the 1MDB mystery.

“The new statement from MACC will not change anything and Najib’s accountability to the public in regards to 1MDB.

“He has yet to explain WSJ allegations, the SRC International transfers, even though MACC reaffirms that it is still looking into SRC transfers,” the PKR secretary-general told Malay Mail Online, referring to 1MDB’s former subsidiary.

“Whatever it is, there is no amount of spin that can take away the controversy of RM2.6 billion worth of funds that went into the prime minister’s personal account, regardless the origin of the money or what the account was used for.”

Rafizi also said he was vindicated as he had predicted earlier yesterday that a new narrative would likely emerge over the next few days to describe the large deposits as a mere financial “contribution”.

Another lawmaker, PAS’s Parit Buntar MP Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, said the controversy over the funds was not merely whether it had come from 1MDB, but also the purpose of such a large contribution.

“Why did someone put such a large amount into his account? We are talking about billions.

“We need to find out who gave the money, why they gave the money and where it went,” he told Malay Mail Online.

The same sentiment was echoed by PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, who continued mocking Najib for delaying his suit against WSJ.

After WSJ’s report, Najib repeatedly denied taking 1MDB funds for personal gain.

The prime minister also accused his detractors of sabotage and claimed Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, one of his fiercest critic in the 1MDB saga, was working with the foreign media in a plot to unseat him.

His lawyers have also penned a letter to the WSJ, demanding that the publication confirm if it had meant to accuse their client of misappropriation when it reported the trial of money into his accounts.

WSJ has since replied to say that its report was based on available facts.

 Najib’s lawyers have yet to announce their next course of action.

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