Saudi minister admits donation to Malaysia PM
April 15 2016 10:44 PM
Najib: strongly denies any wrongdoing.

DPA/Reuters/AFP/Kuala Lumpur

A Saudi Arabian minister has admitted that his country donated money to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who has faced calls to resign over millions of dollars found in his bank accounts, Malaysian state media reported yesterday.
“We are aware of the donation and it is a genuine donation with nothing expected in return,” Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters on the sidelines of the 13th Summit of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) in Istanbul.
“We are also fully aware that the attorney general of Malaysia has thoroughly investigated the matter and found no wrongdoing,” Bernama news agency quoted the Saudi minister as saying.
“As far as we are concerned, the matter is closed,” said al-Jubeir, who spoke as Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman looked on.
Adel did not specify the amount Saudi Arabia donated to Najib.
This was the first time a Saudi Arabia official has openly admitted giving the money to the Malaysian prime minister.
Al-Jubeir’s comments showed the allegations against Najib were unfounded, the prime minister’s spokesman, Tengku Sarifuddin Tengku Ahmad, said in a statement.
“This confirms what the prime minister maintained all along, and what multiple lawful authorities concluded after exhaustive investigations: the funds were a donation from Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Najib has been facing persistent calls to resign over suspicions the 2.6bn ringgit ($673mn) in his bank accounts came from the cash-strapped state investment fund.
Najib, who strongly denies any wrongdoing, initially vehemently denied receiving any money, but his government has since admitted the payment was made, and in January said it was a “personal donation” from the Saudi royal family.
The Malaysian government has subsequently claimed it was Saudi financial backing for Najib’s promotion of “moderate Islam”, denying it was looted from 1MDB.
That alibi has been widely questioned in Muslim-majority Malaysia, especially as weeks went by with no official Saudi endorsement.
The US daily the Wall Street Journal reported in July about the millions of dollars in Najib’s private bank accounts, suggesting the money came from the beleaguered 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which amassed over $40bn debt since it was founded in 2009.
In January, the Malaysian Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali said the bulk of the money in Najib’s account – 2.08bn ringgit – was a donation from the Saudi royal family.
1MDB, whose advisory board is chaired by Najib, is under investigation in at least five countries for alleged graft and mismanagement.
Last week, a Malaysian parliamentary inquiry slammed the board of 1MDB for being irresponsible and urged a probe into its former chief, but stopped short of implicating the prime minister.

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