Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak is facing the risk of a criminal charge over allegations that millions of dollars were funnelled from an indebted state fund to his personal bank accounts, the first time the country’s leader has faced criminal allegations.
The attorney general confimed on Saturday that he had received documents from an offical investigation that made the link between Prime Minister Razak and the 1MDB investment fund.
The allegations were that he is being investigated for funnelling nearly $US 700 million of deposits into accounts that allegedly belonged to him. He claims that it was a “continuation of political sabotage”.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that it would be first time the beleaguered prime minister has been directly linked to accusations of corruption surrounding the fund.
The documents that was sent to the attorney general pave the way for possible criminal charges.
“There have been concerted efforts by certain individuals to undermine confidence in our economy, tarnish the government, and remove a democratically elected prime minister,” Mr Najib’s office said in a statement on his Facebook page.
“These latest claims, attributed to unnamed investigators as a basis to attack the prime minister, are a continuation of this political sabotage,” it said.
The statement said documents cited in the report should not be accepted as genuine unless verified by appropriate authorities. It pointed to reports about criminal leaking of documents, doctoring and extortion related to 1MDB that has been recently published in the media.
The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) is still showing support for Najib Razak
“If they were dead serious about the authenticity, the reports should have named the sources,” said Abdul Rahman Dahlan, the minister for Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government, in a tweet.
The opposition parties has called on Mr Najib Razak to take a leave of absence while the allegations are investigated, and another said he must declare his assets publicly in a sworn statement.
Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has previously called for the prime minister to step down over the 1MDB fiesta.
Mahathir Mohamad withdrew his support for Najib Razak after the BN coalition fell short of a popular majority in 2013 elections but retained power.
1MDB has faced a storm of criticism over its debt of nearly $US11.6 billion and financial mismanagement. Mr Najib chairs the fund’s advisory board.
Five deposits into Mr Najib’s account have been questioned. The two largest transactions, worth $US620 million and $US61 million, through a chain of companies linked to 1MDB were done in March 2013 during the election campaign, it said.
Now the fund is facing separate investigations by the country’s central bank, auditor-general, police and the parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.
1MDB described the allegations as “unsubstantiated” and said it had never provided any funds to the prime minister. “To suggest otherwise, as some media outlets have done, is highly irresponsible and a deliberate attempt to undermine the company,” the fund said in a statement.
“In order to protect whistleblowers and allow a free and independent investigation, he cannot hold the post of prime minister,” PKR MP Tian Chua said.
“He must set himself aside; it would show that he is confident of his innocence. If he refuses, there will be suspicion that someone is trying to cook the books.”