Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak received US$681 million in his personal bank account from Saudi Arabia to help him win the 2013 election, according a Saudi source says.
Malaysia’s attorney general cleared Najib of corruption on Tuesday after ruling the money was a donation from the Saudi royal family.
Najib had denied that the money came from state-owned investment fund 1MDB wehich he serves as an adviser.
BBC News is quoting the Saudi source saying the donation was made amid concern in Riyadh about the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.
At the time, Malaysia’s opposition alliance included the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party.
Its founders were inspired by the Brotherhood, although there is little evidence the Brotherhood actually has much support in Malaysia.
Najib’s coalition went on to win the election but with one of its poorest showings in more than 50 years in power.
The secretive donation to Najib was allegedly made in several wire transfers between late March 2013 and early April 2013, just ahead of the election May 5 election.
The source, who has asked not to be named, told the BBC the payment was authorised by the late King Abdullah, with funds his own pocket and from state coffers.
Prince Turki bin Abdullah, one of the king’s sons, is reported to have had extensive business dealings in Malaysia.
However, questions are swirling over the secretive and convoluted nature of the money transfer and over reports that Najib returned 91 percent of it just four months later.
The remaining US$61m has not been accounted for.
told the BBC that the $681m was paid through the Singapore branch of a Swiss bank owned by the rulers of Abu Dhabi.
“It is very murky”, a British corporate investigator with extensive experience of the Middle East, said.
“This case will never be fully cleared up until the Saudis and the Malaysians release all the transaction data, and that has not happened.”
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