KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's Attorney-General (AG) Apandi Ali on Tuesday (Jan 26) cleared Prime Minister Najib Razak of any wrongdoing with regard to RM2.6 billion (US$607 million) worth of donations that were channelled into his bank accounts.
Mr Apandi had received investigation papers from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC) on Dec 31, 2015 on the controversy surrounding the donation into Mr Najib's accounts and also in relation to SRC International, a former subsidiary of the state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The MACC had earlier said the funds were a political donation from an unidentified Middle Eastern benefactor.
Najib Razak was cleared of wrongdoing over the transfer of funds into his personal accounts during a news conference that even caught the media off guard. Melissa Goh has all the details from Kuala Lumpur. MORE: http://bit.ly/1lMDYiJPosted by Channel NewsAsia on Monday, 25 January 2016
"The documents submitted to me by the MACC show that the sum of US$681 million (RM2.08 billion) transferred into the account of the PM between Mar 22, 2013 and Apr 4, 2013 is a personal donation from the Saudi royal family which was given to him without any consideration," said Mr Apandi in a statement.
"I am satisfied there is no evidence to show that the donation was a form of gratification given corruptly."
The statement added: "Furthermore, in August 2013, a sum of US$620 million was returned by the Prime Minister to Saudi royal family because it was not utilised. Based on the evidence from witnesses and supporting documents, I am satisfied that no criminal offence has been committed in relation to said donation."
Mr Najib, who has weathered months of calls from opposition leaders and establishment figures to resign, has denied any wrongdoing all along and said he did not take any money for personal gain.
The past fund transfers were revealed last July just as Najib was battling separate allegations that hundreds of millions of dollars were missing from deals involving 1MDB. Shortly after the fund movements were revealed, Mr Najib provoked fierce criticism by sacking Malaysia's previous Attorney-General - who was investigating the matter - and installing Mr Apandi, who has ties to the ruling party.
"Why is the prime minister (receiving) donations of such a sum from the Saudi Arabia royal family?" said Tony Pua, PAC opposition MP. "It's not a private matter, it's a matter of public accountability, of him holding the number 1 office in the country to explain to the people."
Speaking to Channel NewsAsia outside the parliament building, Foreign Minister Anifah said that no amount of explanation would be enough to "make people believe".
"It's up to the people whether they accept the explanation or not. Even if the PM is telling the truth, there (are) bound to be people bent on not accepting it so where do we go (from here)?" he said.
However, Mr Anifah added that the on-going allegations against Najib had not affected the PM's standing overseas, and that he was still regarded as a respected leader.
On SRC International, the AG said that Mr Najib also did not abuse his position to obtain a government guarantee for the RM4 billion bond issued by SRC.
"Evidence show that the loan approval process and the loan guarantee approval by the Cabinet were properly done," said the AG in his statement. "There are no evidence to show that Mr Najib had solicited or was promised any gratification from any party before, during or after the Cabinet decision was made."
He added: "MACC itself admitted that based on their investigation, there are no evidence from the witnesses that could show that Mr Najib had committed any act of corrupt practice."
The AG has ordered the case closed.