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KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad expressed disappointment that Saudi Arabia did not comment on Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s claim that the RM2.6 billion deposited in his account was a “donation” from one of the kingdom’s royalty.
In an interview with al-Jazeera's “Talk to Al Jazeera”, Dr Mahathir said there was no proof to confirm or deny that the princely sum originated from and returned to the country, as previously alleged by the former prime minister.
“So we can't accuse Saudi Arabia, unless of course, there is proof that Saudi Arabia has tried to interfere in Malaysian politics,” Dr Mahathir was quoted saying.
The donation was first reported over three years ago by The Wall Street Journal, launching the country into a prolonged saga over 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) that culminated in Najib leading Barisan Nasional to defeat in the 14th general election.
Najib maintains to this day that the RM2.6 billion was a political donation to Umno and claimed again this week that it was cleared by Bank Negara Malaysia at the time.
Former BNM governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz denies this.
However, Najib also sacked Tan Sri Gani Patail as attorney-general at the time, replacing him with Tan Sri Apandi Ali who then cleared the former PM of any wrongdoing.
Despite this, however, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is now saying it has no evidence that the sum was a donation and no information to corroborate claims that it came from a supposed Saudi prince.
The commission interviewed former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for over eight hours this week as he previously claimed to have met the mysterious Arab donor.
Najib was charged on Wednesday with three counts of criminal breach of trust and one count of power abuse in relation to RM42 million allegedly misappropriated from a former 1MDB unit.
Prior to his prosecution, commercial crime investigators raided locations linked to Najib and seized an estimated RM1.1 billion in cash, jewellery and assorted luxury goods.