PETALING JAYA: Former 1MDB chairman Lodin Wok Kamaruddin has sought to distance himself from Najib Razak’s claim that board members had wrongly kept the alleged embezzlement of funds a secret from him.
Lodin, who stepped down as 1MDB chairman in 2016 after the entire board resigned following recommendations in the Public Accounts Committee’s report on the troubled state fund, said he could not comment as it involved legal matters, among others.
“I do not want to engage (in) that kind of (matter). Let it be. Who are we? I am a small fry,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.
In his first interview since his coalition’s shock defeat in the May 9 election, Najib had told Reuters that he should not be blamed for the 1MDB scandal.
He said his advisers and the management and board of 1MDB had hidden the alleged embezzlement of funds from him, and that it was incumbent upon them to tell him if something was wrong.
“I’m not party to the yacht, the paintings… I’ve never seen those paintings whatsoever,” he said.
“I was not aware of these purchases. This was done without my knowledge. I would never authorise 1MDB funds to be used for any of these items. I’ve been in government so long, I know what’s right and what’s wrong.”
This was after Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad told Reuters the authorities had “an almost perfect case” against Najib on charges of embezzlement, misappropriation and bribery linked to 1MDB.
US prosecutors have alleged that more than US$4.5 billion of 1MDB funds was laundered through a complex web of transactions and shell companies. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has filed several lawsuits to claim about US$1.7 billion in assets believed to have been stolen from 1MDB.
The assets include a Picasso painting, luxury real estate in South California and New York, shares in a Hollywood production company and a US$265 million yacht, and more than US$200 million worth of jewellery including a 22-carat pink diamond pendant and necklace.
Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing in connection with 1MDB. He maintains that US$681 million transferred into his personal bank account was a donation from Saudi Arabia and not misappropriated funds from 1MDB.