We could have bankrupted Umno much earlier if we wanted to, says Dr M

KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today dismissed claims that the government is trying to bankrupt Umno through its civil forfeiture suits to recover money said to be from state investment fund 1MDB.

The prime minister said the party was free to set up “another Umno” but that if its members had committed wrongdoing, they would have to face legal action.

“There is no question (on the government’s intention to bankrupt Umno). If we wanted to bankrupt Umno, we could have done that earlier – much earlier,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Asia Oil and Gas Conference at the KL Convention Centre here today.

“We have allowed (former prime minister) Najib Razak to move about quite freely. Although he has been charged in court, he has been going around being bossku,” he added.

He was responding to claims by Umno members that the suits by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) are a bid by Pakatan Harapan to bankrupt the former ruling party.

He said in the past, Umno had taken stolen money and distributed it to divisions.

“The divisions spent stolen money,” he added. “Stolen money must be returned, not to Umno but to the government because that is government money stolen by Najib.”

MACC said last week that it had filed civil forfeiture suits against 41 individuals and entities, including political parties like Umno and MCA.

The 41 are said to have received RM270 million belonging to 1MDB which was transferred from an AmBank account in Najib’s name.

Umno acting president Mohamad Hasan said on Thursday that the party would fight MACC in court to recover the funds.