British embassy questioned claim of Malaysian PM that he is cleared of corruption

According to a diplomatic cable obtained by the Guardian, the British embassy in Kuala Lumpur has questioned a claim made by Najib Razak, the British national newspaper reported on 19 December 2016.

The Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, has claimed that his country’s anti-graft agency had cleared him of corruption.

In August 2015 Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) stated that the fund that had been deposited into Najib’s personal bank account was from unnamed ‘donors’. It did not elaborate on the donor or why they transferred funds to Najib’s private accounts but said the nearly US$700 million (S$ 1,012 billion) money sent into his account was not from the the scandal fund 1MDB.

Based on that statement, Najib has told members of his ruling party five days later, that the MACC had cleared him of corruption allegations.

The Guardian wrote, a diplomatic telegram sent to London from the British High Commission in the Malaysian capital suggested the embassy queried that claim.

“Najib announced the MACC had exonerated him of corruption and the funds in his bank account were a donation from the Middle East and not from 1MDB,” it said.

“There has been no official MACC statement to this effect.”

The opponents of Najib said the funds may have originated from 1MDB but were laundered internationally. Malaysian attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali has said the US$681 million (S$984.5 million) that had been received in Prime Minister Najib Razak’s bank account was a personal donation from a member of the Saudi royal family.

The UK has been criticised for not speaking out actively against one of the world’s biggest financial scandals.

The Guardian has made requests under a freedom of information and the British cable was released but was heavily redacted. It included only factual reporting of events in Malaysia.

Source: The Guardian
Source: The Guardian

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said the redactions have to be made as some of the information may prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and other states if it was disclosed.

“In this case, the release of some information within diptel [diplomatic telegram] reporting could harm our relations with Malaysia,” the office said.

Najib has suspended two newspapers, removed a deputy who openly criticised him, and sacked the country’s top attorney who had been leading the official investigation, to block the greatest threat to his power.

The replacement man he had chosen for the investigation has closed the case and ended the MACC investigation in January by clearing Najib, arousing angers from opposition sides.

But several countries are conducting publicly-declared investigations into the alleged embezzlement of billions of dollars derived from 1MDB, which has debts of over US$11 billion (S$15.9 billion) and whose advisory board was chaired by Najib.

Switzerland said the sum suspected to have been stolen from 1MDB is about US$4 billion (S$5.78 billion), some of which has been transferred to accounts held in Switzerland by various former Malaysian public officials.

And the US attorney general has stated that it seeks to recover more than US$1 billion (S$1.45 billion) laundered through the United States.

The US investigation has detailed a complex network of international transactions it said were used to launder money from 1MDB, some were: high-end real estate in New York and Los Angeles, a jet aircraft, and paintings by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet.

In an immediate response to allegations, the Prime Minister’s Office has said the government would fully cooperate with any lawful investigation of Malaysian companies or citizens in accordance with international protocol.

The US complaint document suspected Riza Aziz, Najib’s stepson, bought a luxury home in Belgravia, London for £23.25 million (S$ 41.72 million) using redirected funds.

The UK is reported to have started its own investigation, however this has not been officially confirmed.

The Guardian has requested freedom of information requests into potential 1MDB investigations in the UK to the Home Office, HM Revenue and Customs, the Metropolitan Police, and the Serious Fraud Office during the past year.

But all have been rejected, it reported.

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