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    Jul 08, 2015

    6 bank accounts frozen amid 1MDB probe


    A TASK force investigating Malaysia's troubled state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) said in a statement yesterday that it had frozen six bank accounts, in the wake of a report in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) claiming that nearly US$700 million (S$950 million) had been transferred to the private bank accounts of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

    The task force also took possession of documents related to 17 accounts from two banks to help with the investigations, Reuters reported.

    While the task force did not specify whose accounts these are or the banks involved, news websites Malaysiakini and Malaysian Insider said three of the accounts belonged to Mr Najib.

    Sources also revealed that two of them were from Ambank and Affin Bank, the websites said.

    Meanwhile, The Star reported that lawyers for Mr Najib's party, Umno, are in the midst of preparing their case against Dow Jones, the publisher of WSJ.

    The order to freeze the accounts was issued on Monday.

    The statement was jointly issued by the Attorney-General, the governor of Bank Negara, the inspector-general of police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's chief commissioner, reported Malaysian Insider.

    The task force said the freeze and seizures were related to the non-compliance of Bank Negara rules by the banks in question.

    Meanwhile, WSJ has uploaded documents, following its first report on Friday, which allegedly detail how the trail of nearly US$700 million ended up in Mr Najib's accounts.

    According to WSJ, the documents were from a "Malaysian government investigation".

    The documents included presentation slides alleging that there were three rounds of transactions, one done through overseas entities before the 2013 General Election and two smaller ones done locally, long after the election.

    Mr Najib has denied taking any money from 1MDB or any other entity for personal gain, and is considering legal action.

    Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad weighed in on the scandal yesterday, saying in a blog that Mr Najib had shamed Malaysia.

    Dr Mahathir was responding to Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, who accused him of shaming Malaysia in an interview with The New York Times published on June 17, in which he had attacked Mr Najib.

    "Truly, the one who shamed the country is Mr Najib with his 1MDB. Prior to this, the country has never been insulted by unanswered allegations, unlike now," Dr Mahathir wrote.

    "The whole world knows about Mr Najib, Jho Low and 1MDB," said the former prime minister, referring to Mr Low, a Hong Kong-based Malaysian businessman said to be involved in money laundering connected to 1MDB.

    He added that in other countries, a leader embroiled in such scandals would have "resigned and apologised".

    "But in Malaysia, you have people defending a leader without other reasons apart from job security."