PETALING JAYA: A Saudi minister has been quoted as saying that a private Saudi citizen may have been the source of a RM2.6 billion deposit in Prime Minister Najib Razak’s private bank accounts in 2013.
Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir was quoted by the New York Times (NYT) yesterday as saying that he accepted the Malaysian attorney-general’s opinion that there had been no wrongdoing.
He also said that he did not think that the money had come from the Saudi government or that it was a political donation, the NYT said. “It is a private Saudi citizen, I believe, and the funds went to an investment in Malaysia,” the US paper quoted him as saying in an interview on Thursday.
The NYT also quoted one unnamed member of the royal family and an unnamed associate of the family as saying that the money was from a Saudi prince. The NYT said they confirmed that it was not a donation, adding that the associate had questioned the reported sum but said the funds were part of a business deal.
The remarks by the minister and the royal sources were quoted as part of a NYT review of the controversy over the deposit, which the attorney-general, Apandi Ali, has said was a political donation from a member of the Saudi royal family. Najib had previously said the money was meant to help secure a victory for the Barisan Nasional in the 2013 General Election. Apandi had also stated last month that most of the money had been returned because it was not used.
The NYT’s report on Friday did not provide any additional new reporting on the issue but showcased a broad range of opinions about the matter.
However Adel Al-Jubeir’s remark was contrary to that of an unnamed Saudi royal family source quoted by the BBC last month. The BBC report said “the payment was authorised from the very top – from Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah – with funds coming from both his personal finances and state funds.”
The BBC had also noted that Prince Turki bin Abdullah, one of the king’s sons, was reported to have had extensive business dealings in Malaysia.
King Abdullah died in January last year. Adel al-Jubeir, a diplomat, was appointed foreign minister in April 2015 by Abdullah’s successor King Salman and was the first commoner appointed to the post. At the time he had been Saudi ambassador to the United States since January 2007.