18 February 2019
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak with his wife Rosmah Mansor. Photo: AFP
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak with his wife Rosmah Mansor. Photo: AFP

1MDB probe shows Malaysian leader Najib spent millions on luxury

A corruption probe into the private bank accounts of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak showed that some of the money diverted from the government investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) was allegedly used for personal expenses, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Citing Malaysian investigation documents, the newspaper said bank-transfer information indicates hundreds of millions of dollars flowed through the prime minister’s accounts over a five-year period, the majority of which, investigators say, originated from 1MDB which Najib set up in 2009.

It cited the case of the prime minister’s credit card, which was charged US$130,625 to Chanel in Honolulu.

The transaction occurred at the time Najib, accompanied by his wife, visited the United States in December 2014.

On Christmas Eve, the newspaper said, Najib was having a round of golf with US President Barack Obama in Hawaii’s 18-hole Kaneohe Klipper course.

A person who works at a Chanel store in the upscale Ala Moana Center in Honolulu recalled that Najib’s wife was shopping there just before Christmas, the report said.

The credit card was paid from one of Najib’s several private bank accounts.

The bank-transfer information showed that US$15 million was spent on clothes, jewelry and a car, involving stores in the US, Malaysia, Italy and elsewhere.

The disclosures appear to undermine claims by Najib and his allies that none of the money went toward personal expenses, the Journal said.

They also show that money flowed from his accounts to politicians, think tanks and lawyers during a tight election in 2013, the report said.

Najib has denied wrongdoing.

Malaysia’s attorney general in January cleared Najib of wrongdoing, saying the money that entered his accounts in 2013 was a legal donation from Saudi’s royal family, and that most of it was returned.

Najib’s defenders also said any money spent in Malaysia went for political purposes, which they say is permissible.

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