Pacific News Minute: Malaysia's Prime Minister Received More than $1 Billion in Transfer Scandal

Mar 1, 2016

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Another bombshell in the long running scandal surrounding Malaysia's Prime Minister: according to the Wall Street Journal, a state development fund he controlled transferred more than a billion dollars into his personal accounts, hundreds of millions more than previously reported. Both the development fund and the prime minister deny the allegations, an explanation, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

In its first report last year, the Journal put the amount transferred at $681-million, a personal donation, Prime Minister Najib Razak later explained, from the Saudi Royal Family.  A Malaysian parliamentary inquiry was quashed, an investigative newspaper shut down and the attorney general was fired.  In January his replacement backed up the Saudi donation account, said that most of the money had been paid back and declared the matter closed.

Since then, the Saudi government has denied making any donation, Switzerland's attorney general said $4-billion dollars had been misappropriated by the development fund and now, in a new report the Wall Street Journal cites overseas investigators who traced a complex web of money transfers through companies in Abu Dhabi, the British Virgin Islands and Singapore until over a billion dollars found its way into the Prime Minister's bank account.  A statement from the Prime Minister's office denounced the Journal as "a willing vehicle for certain political actors who are seeking to damage the prime minister."

That may have been a reference to the Prime Minister's most persistent critic, former Prime Minister Matathir Muhammed who resigned from the ruling party yesterday. "I feel embarrassed that I am associated with a party that is seen as supporting corruption, " he said, "it has caused me to feel ashamed."  In addition to Switzerland, investigations of Malaysian money transfers are underway in Hong Kong, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and the United States.