KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 26 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak has admitted today that he did not verify the source of the RM2.6 billion that ended up in his bank account, which had allegedly been siphoned from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Speaking to Al Jazeera’s 101 East show, the former prime minister said he had assumed the money was “donations” connected to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud after the latter gave assurance of his support.
“The question is when I received the funds, was I aware of the source of the money or whether the source of the money is in dispute as to who owns the fund. Certainly, in my capacity, I would not have access to banking knowledge.
“Because whoever owns the fund is protected by the secrecy of the banking laws so when I received the funds, in all honesty, I thought it was a genuine donation and at that particular time, the knowledge that I had was based on a conversation with King Abdullah,” he told Al Jazeera reporter Mary Ann Jolley.
Najib also denied knowledge of the matter when Jolley pointed out that the United States Department of Justice report clearly showed the paper trail of the funds, and Najib’s authority as prime minister.
“Yeah, but that prime ministers do not have access to banking information,” Najib said.
A transcript of the interview was made available to Malay Mail. In the hour-long grilling, Najib lost his cool a couple of times.
The show will be aired on the news channel tomorrow at 11.30am Malaysian time.
Last month, Najib said he had requested the cash from the Saudi King, as a “contingency fund” to aid Barisan Nasional (BN) during the 2013 general election, to which the King then agreed to contribute an initial sum of US$800 million (RM3.31 billion today).
However, Najib claimed he only received US$681 million (then RM2.6 billion) from the King’s various accounts, one of which came from a company named Tanore.
Tanore has been reported to be a supposed shell company used to wire funds from 1MDB to accounts of selected beneficiaries, including Najib’s
In May, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Datuk Mohd Shukri Abdull said there was no evidence that a Saudi monarch had deposited the money, citing investigations in the kingdom in 2015.