- Amounts in accounts were more than previously known, says WSJ
- Paper cites global investigators saying funds were from 1MDB
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak received more than $1 billion in his private bank accounts between 2011 and 2013, according to the Wall Street Journal.
There was more money in the accounts than the previously known $681 million which appeared before the 2013 general election, the paper reported, citing two people it didn’t identify.
Investigators in two countries believe the $681 million originated from state investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd.,rather than a personal donation from Saudi Arabia as stated by Malaysian authorities, it said, citing people familiar with the global probes.
The Wall Street Journal didn’t give details on the funds that were deposited in 2011 and 2012. It reported that investigators said two former Abu Dhabi officials helped move the $681 million through complex transactions across several countries before it entered Najib’s accounts.
The Malaysian government said in a statement Tuesday that the funds received were a donation from Saudi and "verified by multiple lawful authorities who conducted exhaustive investigations."
"This included Malaysian authorities traveling to Saudi Arabia to examine documentation and interview members of the royal family and officials that administered the donation," it said. "The foreign minister of Saudi Arabia has also confirmed that the funds came from Saudi Arabia."
A 1MDB spokesman said the company has consistently maintained it hadn’t paid any funds to the personal accounts of the prime minister.
Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali in January closed the door on a graft probe of Najib, clearing him of wrongdoing over a “personal contribution” from the Saudi royal family in early 2013, and money from a company linked to 1MDB that appeared in his personal accounts.
The premier returned $620 million in August 2013 that was not utilized, Apandi said, without specifying what the rest of the funds were used for. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that people familiar with investigations also said the bulk of the money was returned.
Najib and 1MDB have consistently denied any wrongdoing.
In January, the Swiss Attorney General’s office said a probe of 1MDB revealed "serious indications" that about $4 billion may have been misappropriated from Malaysian state companies, and some former public officials had funds transferred to Swiss accounts. Najib is “not one of the public officials under accusation,” it said.
In response to queries on 1MDB, Singapore authorities said they had seized a "large number” of bank accounts in connection with possible money-laundering carried out in the island nation.