Najib gave over $9m to Umno politicians
MALAYSIAN banker Nazir Razak has confirmed receiving nearly US$7 million (S$9.4 million) from his elder brother, Prime Minister Najib Razak, ahead of the 2013 general election, and said the money was passed on to politicians in the ruling United Malays National Organisation (Umno), according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
Mr Nazir, chairman of the government-controlled bank CIMB, said the money that entered his private account was distributed in accordance with instructions from the president of Umno, the New York-based financial newspaper said, citing a statement from him.
Mr Najib is the president of Umno.
Mr Nazir said he believed the money came from donations he helped solicit from Malaysian companies and individuals, reported WSJ, which has suggested financial wrongdoings by Mr Najib in a number of reports since July .
"I had no knowledge whatsoever that these funds may have originated from any other source," WSJ cited Mr Nazir as saying.
The funds transferred to Mr Nazir was part of more than 500 transfers from Mr Najib's accounts before the closely-fought elections in 2013, the bulk of which went to politicians, the newspaper added.
Such donations are not considered illegal in Malaysia, Reuters pointed out.
Mr Najib has denied all corruption allegations against him and maintained he did not take any money for personal gain.
However, the latest WSJ report said some of the money in Mr Najib's accounts were used for personal expenses, including US$15 million on luxury clothing, jewellery and a car.
WSJ also claimed it has seen Malaysian investigation documents, which purportedly indicate that "the majority" of the funds in Mr Najib's accounts originated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the debt-ridden state investment firm headed by the PM.
Mr Najib has insisted the funds were gifts from the royal family of Saudi Arabia.
In a statement yesterday, 1MDB maintained it did not transfer any funds to Mr Najib's accounts, reported the Malaysiakini news portal.
Meanwhile, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has asked close to 40 banks with a presence in Singapore to provide information about money flows from 1MDB-linked entities.
The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and the National Australia Bank became the latest to be caught up in the scandal.
Transfers of as little as US$50,000 are believed to be under scrutiny by the MAS, which is investigating if the monies from 1MDB-related entities were split into small bundles to escape notice.
Swiss bank BSI has attracted media attention in recent months, after being caught up in the controversy surrounding 1MDB.