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    Aug 24, 2015

    Malaysia's DPM 'met Arab family who donated US$700m'


    MALAYSIAN Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said he has met the wealthy Arab family who donated the US$700 million (S$980 million) meant as a gift to United Malays National Organisation (Umno) and found in Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal accounts.

    According to Mr Zahid, the donation was to show appreciation for Malaysia's commitment in fighting terrorism and being a moderate Muslim country with a pluralistic society, The Star reported.

    "Malaysia has Pota, the penal code, Sosma," Mr Zahid said, naming the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 as some reasons that attracted the donation.

    He did not name the family nor reveal when the meeting took place.

    "They (the donors) also told me that Malaysia was not the only country they have donated money to," said the Umno vice-president while opening a Umno division meeting in Johor on Saturday.

    He said he had also met the investment officer of the Arab family, who told him the first US$100 million was given via a cheque bearing Mr Najib's name, and the rest through other channels.

    Mr Zahid also said he saw the documents on the donation and the money trail himself.

    He said that the donation was completely from the Arab family and not a cent was from Malaysia's Retirement Fund (Kwap) or 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the state investment arm.

    Allegations of corruption have dogged Mr Najib since July 2, when the United States-based Wall Street Journal alleged that 1MDB-linked companies, including SCR International - which had taken a RM4 billion (S$1.3 billion) loan from Kwap - had channelled US$700 million into his accounts.

    News website The Malaysian Insider yesterday pointed out that Pota was passed by the Parliament only in April - after the donations had gone into Mr Najib's accounts.

    Meanwhile, 1MDB said it is ready to assist in any investigations by Switzerland's Office of the Attorney General (OAG) if approached, The Star reported.

    On Friday, OAG said it had opened criminal proceedings relating to 1MDB.

    The case involved "suspected corruption of public foreign officials, dishonest management of public interests and money laundering", said the office.

    The criminal proceedings follow two communications from the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland.

    Swiss financial regulator Finma said last week it was checking with some of the country's banks on whether they had carried out business with 1MDB.

    The state investment arm has been mired in controversy since it was found to be saddled with RM42 billion in debt.