PETALING JAYA: Najib Razak said he did not verify the source of the RM2.6 billion that was deposited into his bank account and had assumed it was linked to Saudi Arabia after King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had assured him of support.
The former prime minister told Al Jazeera’s 101 East show that “in his capacity”, he did not have access to banking knowledge.
“Because whoever owns the fund is protected by the secrecy of the banking laws.
“So, when I received the funds, in all honesty, I thought it was a genuine donation and at that particular time, the knowledge that I had was based on a conversation with King Abdullah,” Najib told Al Jazeera reporter Mary Ann Jolley.
When Jolley pointed out that the United States’ Department of Justice’s report showed the paper trail of the funds, Najib denied knowledge of that.
Earlier today, it was reported that Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Ahmed Al-Jubeir had said the RM2.6 billion donation banked into Najib’s personal account had nothing to do with his government.
In 2015, The Wall Street Journal, citing the Malaysian authorities’ investigation papers, reported that the RM2.6 billion, linked by some to state-owned 1MDB, was funnelled into Najib’s personal bank accounts.
Najib, in response, said the money came from a member of the Saudi royal family to help Umno in its 2013 general election campaign. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing by the then Attorney-General Apandi Ali.
But in May, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Mohd Shukri Abdull said the Saudi prince, whom Najib claimed had given him RM2.6 billion as a donation, could not prove the claim.
The pink diamond
Najib also told Jolley that the infamous 22-carat pink diamond pendant linked to his wife, Rosmah Mansor, was a gift from Prince Sheikh Mansour, the brother of Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed of the UAE.
Najib said the diamond — which was purportedly bought with money from 1MDB — was not a gift from controversial businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low.
“We know that Jho low was a close associate of Sheikh Mansour,” he told Jolley.
When Jolley pressed on the fact that renowned jeweller Lorraine Schwartz knew that the diamond was a gift from Low to Rosmah paid by him, Najib said: “As far as we were concerned, it was a gift from Sheikh Mansour, who would know where it came from and who paid for it.”
Why only Jho Low?
As for the flamboyant businessman, Najib urged the authorities to also investigate international figures linked to 1MDB.
Najib claimed that there were other international figures who were probably involved and must be probed.
“We want to know where the money flowed to. And who really benefited from the whole 1MDB issue. I would like to know too,” he told Jolley.
Najib said this when asked about the investigations related to the scandal-plagued investment arm.