Former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak has insisted that the RM2.6 billion ($681 million) in his bank account was a donation from a Saudi ruler and reserved for the purpose of funding his campaign during the 2013 general election.
In an interview with Malaysiakini, Najib said the US Department of Justice’s investigations into the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal had verified that over $600 million of the supposed donation was already returned to the donor – the late Saudi ruler King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al Saud.
However, the Pakatan Harapan government had ignored this, he claimed.
He asked: “Does it smack of somebody who was trying to cheat or steal? If the intention was to steal, why would I use a local bank account in my own name?”
“I used the money for the election and after the election, the (balance) money was returned. As far as I was concerned, that was the responsible thing to do.”
Najib added that his acceptance of the donation followed a prior meeting with the Saudi ruler, during which he asked the monarch for support.
“I asked him to support the (Malaysian) government because I thought their government has a record of supporting governments which are somewhat friendly with them,” he said.
“So what I requested was nothing unusual and he agreed to support and subsequently we received letters and then the money was credited at about the time they had promised the donation.”
The relevant authorities had been informed and Bank Negara was notified of the incoming funds, according to Najib.
Moreover, he said the Saudi foreign minister had openly confirmed the funds were a donation and the transaction into his bank account had been documented.
“As far as I am concerned, I acted in good faith. On top of it, King Abdullah awarded me the highest decoration from Saudi. Only (former US) president (Barack) Obama and (Russian president Vladimir) Putin have the same. That shows the level of trust he had in me.”
Responding to a question on why he needed that much funding, Najib said he was anticipating a second “916 threat” which first happened in the 2008 general election when opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim allegedly attempted to coax 30 Barisan Nasional members of parliament to join his side so that he could become prime minister.
Najib claimed he had since returned what remained of the donation because he felt “uncomfortable” holding on to the massive amount of money and lacked confidence in “the integrity of the system”, fearing potential leaks.
Regarding the RM42 million from SRC International – a subsidiary of 1MDB – Najib was reticent about the details.
“I’ve to be careful because this is subject to investigation. I have given my full account and I stand by my account to MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission).”
On Jun 28, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the authorities were in the midst of compiling evidence against Najib on the 1MDB scandal and a separate case concerning the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.
“I think he (Najib) will be brought to court soon,” said Dr Mahathir.