PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has reiterated that the US$681mil (RM2.6bil) found in his account prior to GE13, was a donation by the Saudi royal family.
According to a report by news portal Malaysiakini, Najib stressed that RM2.5bil (US$620mil) of the total amount had been returned to the donor after GE13.
Najib also noted that the US Department of Justice (DoJ) had acknowledged the sum had been returned to the donor.
Najib explained that the donation came following his meeting with the late Saudi ruler King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al Saud.
“The genesis was when I met with King Abdullah. I asked him to support the (Malaysian) government because I thought their government has a record of supporting governments which are somewhat friendly with them.
“So what I requested was nothing unusual and he agreed to support and subsequently we received letters and then money was credited at about the time they had promised the donation. I informed the relevant authorities. Bank Negara was informed of that fund that was coming in,” he was quoted as saying on Monday (July 2).
Najib subsequently launched a thinly-veiled attack against Pakatan Harapan for claiming that he pocketed the RM2.6bil donation.
“Pakatan Harapan tells the people that I took ‘RM2.6bil’ but they never said that the money was also returned by me to the same source. That is not fair.
“Does it smack of somebody who was trying to cheat or steal? If the intention was to steal, why would I use a local bank account in my own name?
“I used the money for the election (GE13) and after the election, the (balance of the) money was returned. As far as I was concerned, that was the responsible thing to do.”
The Pekan MP explained that it is important to have a large amount of funding after the polls, as there could be a possible repeat of the “916” threat in GE12.
Najib was referring to an incident after GE12 on Sept 16, 2008, where Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was leading the now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat, had claimed that 30 lawmakers from Barisan Nasional would cross over to the opposition.
This could have led to the fall of the Barisan government in 2008.
When quizzed by Malaysiakini on why he decided to return the amount to the donor, Najib said he felt uncomfortable holding on to large amount of unspent funds, as he was not confident of the integrity of the “system”.
“And I thought in subsequent elections, if I needed (funds) I could always go back (to the source),” he added.
When asked if the donor is willing to clear his name if he was charged, Najib answered: “Well we have letters and documented the movement of funds, and the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia has come out openly to confirm it was a donation.”
“As far as I am concerned, I acted in good faith. On top of it, King Abdullah awarded me the highest decoration from Saudi Arabia. Only (former US) president (Barack) Obama and (Russian president Vladimir) Putin have the same. That shows the level of trust he had in me,” he added.
Najib also maintained that no such donations were in his account during GE14.
“No, after all that has happened I stay away (from donations in personal accounts),” he said.