- Attorney general last month ordered closure of investigations
- Money appeared in Najib's accounts in 2013 before elections
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said its operations review panel advised it to continue investigating the millions of dollars donated to Prime Minister Najib Razak, setting the agency up for a potential battle with the attorney general who had ordered the closure of the probe.
The panel also recommended the anti-graft agency seek the attorney general’s assistance to let it obtain evidence and documents from foreign financial institutions, it said in a statement Wednesday. The Attorney General’s Office could not be immediately reached for comment.
Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali last month closed the door on the graft investigation into Najib, clearing him of wrongdoing over a “personal contribution” of $681 million from the Saudi Arabian royal family in early 2013, and money from a company linked to a state investment fund that appeared in his personal bank accounts. The premier returned $620 million in August 2013 that were not utilized, Apandi said. He did not specify what the remainder of the funds were used for.
Apandi said on Jan. 26 he was satisfied no criminal offense had been committed and ordered the MACC to close the investigation papers. Under the constitution, a decision to initiate criminal prosecution lies solely with the attorney general. Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Various investigations into the funding scandal have seen Najib face his biggest crisis in his nearly seven years in power. Amid pressure from some quarters of his own party, Najib, 62, has said the money that appeared before the 2013 general election was to meet the needs of the party and the community and wasn’t a new practice.
He’s weathered a public campaign by former premier Mahathir Mohamad to get him out, with Mahathir warning their United Malays National Organisation and the broader ruling coalition risk losing the next election due by 2018 if Najib stays on. The alliance lost the popular vote for the first time in 2013 as non-Malay voters deserted it.
Mahathir was questioned by police on Wednesday over comments made on his blog after authorities received several complaints over posts. He told reporters he was willing to go to court to defend his views and said he’d only answer police questions in court if charged.
Mahathir has used his blog to repeatedly call for the premier to resign, accusing him of corruption and mismanagement, claims Najib refutes. Authorities opened several investigations last year into Mahathir, the country’s longest-serving leader, including whether his comments constituted defamation. Mahathir was quizzed by police in November and declined to answer queries.