After months of investgation, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been cleared by his own attorney general of any wrongdoing in the transfer of US$681 million to his personal bank account.
The money was a gift from the Saudi royal family and there were no criminal offenses or corruption involved, Reuters reports, citing Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali.
The involvement of the Saudi royal family is an unexpected twist in a scandal over the mysterious fund transfer and the troubles of indebted state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, whose advisory board Najib chairs.
“I am satisfied with the findings that the funds were not a form of graft or bribery,” Apandi told a hastily called news conference.
A statement said Najib had returned US$620 million to the Saudi royal family because it had not been utilised.
“There was no reason given as to why the donation was made to PM Najib, that is between him and the Saudi family,” Apandi said.
He said no criminal offense was committed by Najib in relation to three investigations submitted by Malaysia’s anti-graft agency and that no further action would be taken.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had earlier said the funds were a political donation from an unidentified Middle Eastern benefactor.
Apandi said in a statement he would return to the MACC papers pertaining to the three separate investigations with instructions to close all three cases.
Najib, who has weathered months of calls from opposition leaders and establishment figures to resign, has denied any wrongdoing and says he did not take any money for personal gain.
The scandal has shaken investors in Southeast Asia’s third biggest economy and rocked public confidence in the coalition led by Najib’s United Malays National Organisation party, which has held power since independence in 1957.
However, Najib still enjoys the backing of most of UMNO’s powerful division chiefs.
Even his fiercest internal critics, such as influential former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, accept that he cannot be unseated.
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