Antigraft investigators question former Malaysian premier Najib Razak
The commission demands that Najib explain transfers to his bank account as new government finds liabilities of tens of billions of dollars
Kuala Lumpur — Former Malaysian premier Najib Razak completed his statement to anti-graft agents on Thursday, as the Southeast Asian country’s new government revealed $50bn of liabilities, adding to debt left behind by Najib’s scandal-hit administration.
Defeated at the polls two weeks ago, Najib was summoned to explain suspicious transfers of $10.6m to his bank account, a fraction of billions of dollars that went missing from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state fund that he had founded during almost a decade in power.
The new government, led by 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, has vowed to find out where the 1MDB money went and punish those responsible.
I have answered all questions as best as I could, and the commission has carried out their duties well and professionallyNajib Razak
Najib has denied wrongdoing, though the new head of the Malaysian Anticorruption Commission this week described how an investigation into 1MDB had been suppressed three years ago to stop charges being brought against him.
Najib, 64, appeared relaxed as he left the anticorruption commission’s headquarters seven hours after arriving.
"I have answered all questions as best as I could, and the commission has carried out their duties well and professionally," Najib told journalists, almost exactly what he said after his first visit to the agency two days earlier.
He said the commission had told him the "statement-session" was over. Malaysians are now wondering if charges will be filed. Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, have been barred from leaving the country.
While Najib was giving his statement, agents also met Xavier Justo, a Swiss national who was the first whistleblower in the 1MDB affair.
Journalists saw Justo in the commission’s lobby 30 minutes before Najib arrived.
Najib’s statement relates to the transfers of 42-million ringgit ($10.6m) to his account that investigators tracked back to SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.
Mahathir met Justo on Sunday. Documents leaked by the former director of energy group PetroSaudi International, which ran an energy joint venture with 1MDB from 2009 to 2012, triggered the investigations in at least six countries.
Mahathir quit as prime minister in 2003 after leading Malaysia for 22 years, but came out of retirement to join the opposition after becoming convinced that Najib, his former protegé, was corrupt.
Investigators have searched Najib’s home and properties, seizing cash, jewellery and luxury items estimated to be worth millions of dollars.
Reports in local newspapers said the cash found totalled 130-million ringgit.
Mahathir has also accused Najib of understating the national debt.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said Najib’s government had committed to making lease payments of 201.4-billion ringgit for several projects that were designed to circumvent the federal government guarantee and debt limits.
The extra obligations brought total debt and liabilities to over 1.087-trillion ringgit as of December 31, 2017, or 80.3% of GDP, said Lim.