An audit of Malaysia’s troubled state investment company didn’t find any suspicious activity, providing a reprieve for Prime Minister Najib Razak as he fends off claims that money connected to the firm may have ended up in his own bank accounts.
While the investigation continues, and the Auditor General’s office told lawmakers that 1Malaysia Development Bhd. didn’t hand over all the requested documents related to its finances, its initial report didn’t turn up any wrongdoing.
There are multiple probes under way into debt-ridden 1MDB, with a separate task force raiding its offices this week as it examines claims of a money trail that apparently led to Najib’s accounts. The crisis is the biggest to hit the premier since he came to power in 2009, adding to investor concern and weakness in local markets. Najib says the allegations are political sabotage.
“This is an interim report and there is nothing suspicious at this moment,” Public Accounts Committee Chairman Nur Jazlan Mohamed told reporters. “It is still too early to come to any conclusion as the A-G will take till the end of the year to complete his work.” Najib ordered the 1MDB audit in March.
“There have been several documents which have not been forthcoming from 1MDB connected to investment agreements and bank transfers,” Nur Jazlan said after speaking to Auditor General Ambrin Buang. “There were some hindrances faced by the A-G.”
Ambrin told reporters the audit is about 50 percent done and he’s confident of obtaining more documents.
“1MDB confirms that all documents in its possession have been submitted to the National Audit Department,” it said in an e-mailed statement. “As the interim report has not yet been shared with 1MDB, we are unable to comment on the PAC Chairman’s statement that certain documents appear to have not been submitted.”
The report comes a day after a task force raided 1MDB’s offices as part of a separate investigation, removing documents and computers after a nine-hour search. It took ledgers, bank statements, agreements on investment and business dealings and minutes of board meetings, it said in a statement Thursday.
The state investment company was at the center of a July 3 Wall Street Journal report that about $700 million may have moved through government agencies and firms linked to 1MDB before apparently ending up in accounts bearing Najib’s name.
The allegations against Najib “remain as allegations,” Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters on Thursday in Kuala Lumpur. “Everyone should let the special task force conduct its investigations,” he said. “It’s unfair for someone who has not committed a sin to be made a victim. Let’s be fair to him.”
The task force investigating the alleged funds in Najib’s accounts comprises the central bank, police, anti-corruption commission and attorney general’s office. On Tuesday it announced a freeze on six bank accounts believed linked to the money trail.
The freeze orders did not involve several accounts held by Najib at Ambank Islamic as those were closed in 2013 and earlier this year, the task force said Thursday. It has given no indication how long its investigation will take.