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    Jan 27, 2016

    Najib cleared of graft, Saudi royals main source of 'donation': AG


    THE Saudi royal family was the main source of the RM2.6 billion (S$870 million) "donation" that has been found in the personal bank accounts of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali said yesterday, clearing the leader of graft allegations.

    According to Mr Apandi, the finding was based on a review of evidence compiled by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) but he gave no further details on the source, who he said actually donated only RM2.08 billion.

    Mr Apandi also said RM2.03 billion was returned to the "donor" in August 2013 by Mr Najib, about five months after the transfer, because it had not been utilised.

    Mr Najib has, for months, been fending off accusations that the huge sum that appeared in his bank accounts in 2013 was siphoned off from the debt-ridden state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which he launched and steers as its advisor.

    Said Mr Apandi: "I am satisfied that there is no evidence to show that the donation was a form of gratification given corruptly." He was made Attorney-General by Mr Najib last year following the sudden retirement of Abdul Gani Patail, who had been investigating the scandal.

    Mr Apandi added that "no criminal offence has been committed by (Mr Najib)", and that he would instruct MACC to "close" the case.

    Mr Najib said last night that the "donation" issue was "an unnecessary distraction for the country" and welcomed the Attorney-General's decision.

    Mr Apandi also cleared Mr Najib of graft at government-owned SRC International, a 1MDB-linked firm, over another RM42 million from SRC that was deposited into Mr Najib's account between December 2014 and February 2015.

    He said there was no evidence to show Mr Najib was aware of the money transfer, nor that he had given his approval.

    Mr Apandi said Mr Najib had thought that all payments made from his accounts came from the Saudi royal family.

    Malaysia's political opposition and critics within Mr Najib's ruling United Malays National Organisation, including former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, have demanded independent investigations into the "donation", seeing Mr Apandi as the premier's tool.

    "If (Mr Najib) didn't change the Attorney-General, the outcome might have been different," the Malaysian Insider news website quoted Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, president of opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan, as saying.

    Mr Najib's "donation" claim has long been derided by Malaysians and his image has been severely battered, said Agence France-Presse.

    Many Malaysians yesterday reacted on Twitter with incredulity to the Attorney-General's findings, with many saying the "donation" remains an "unsolved mystery".

    Meanwhile, United States authorities are reportedly looking into 1MDB-related overseas fund flows. Swiss, British, Singaporean and Hong Kong authorities have acknowledged scrutinising the affair.