Saudi royals gave Malaysian prime minister $681 million 'gift'

Saudi royals gave Malaysian prime minister $681 million 'gift'
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak has been cleared of corruption after an attorney general judged that a multi-million Saudi donation was a 'gift' but questions remain unanswered.
2 min read
26 January, 2016
The funds that sparked a corruption probe were a Saudi gift [AFP]

Nearly $681 million channeled into private accounts of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak were deemed to be personal donations from Saudi Arabia's royal family, with the country's attorney general clearing the premiere of any criminal wrongdoing.

The announcement capped months of uncertainty for Razak, who has come under intense pressure to resign over the financial scandal in his biggest political crisis since he took power in 2009.

But the announcement by Attorney General Mohammed Apandi Ali did not clear up the mystery over the money as he did not say why the Saudi royals made the donation to Razak nor give any details on what the money was to be used for.

Apandi said investigations by the country's anti-corruption agency showed that no criminal offence was committed as the $681 million transferred into Razak's accounts between March and April 2013 was "given without any consideration" by the Saudi royal family as a personal donation.

He said Razak returned $620 million to the Saudi royal family in August 2013 as it wasn't utilised. He did not say what happened to the remaining $61 million.

The anti-corruption agency met and recorded statements from witnesses, including the donor, he said.

"I am satisfied that there is no evidence to show that the donation was a form of gratification given corruptly," Apandi said.

"Based on the evidence from witnesses and supporting documents submitted, I am satisfied that no criminal offence has been committed in relation to the said ($681 million) donation."

There was no immediate comment from Razak, who has been grappling with deep unhappiness over his leadership.

Maive street rallies were held in Malaysia last August with demonstrators calling for his resignation, after documents leaked in July suggested that about $700 million was deposited in his private bank accounts from entities linked to indebted state investment fund 1MDB.

Razak has denied any wrongdoing and later said the money was a donation from the Middle East.

Since then, he has expelled critics in his government, sacked the then attorney general probing him and cracked down on the media that had helped him remain in power.