Saudi royals gifted PM $700m ‘with no strings attached’

Najib Razak paid back all but $61m of the 'donation'. Picture: AFP/Getty
Najib Razak paid back all but $61m of the 'donation'. Picture: AFP/Getty
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Almost $700 million (£420m) channelled into prime minister Najib Razak’s private accounts was a personal donation from Saudi Arabia’s royal family, Malaysia’s attorney general said yesterday.

Clearing Najib of any criminal wrongdoing, Mohammed Apandi Ali failed to clear up the mystery over the money or why the Saudi royals made the donation. Nor did he disclose what the money was to be used for.

The announcement capped months of uncertainty for Najib, who has been fighting intense pressure to resign over the financial scandal in his biggest political crisis since he took power in 2009.

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Apandi said investigations by the country’s anti-corruption agency showed that no criminal offence was committed as the $681m transferred into Najib’s accounts between March and April 2013 was “given without any consideration” by the Saudi royals as a personal donation.

He said Najib returned $620m to the Saudi royal family in August 2013 as the money wasn’t used. He did not elaborate and did not say what happened to the remaining $61m.

The anti-corruption agency met and recorded statements from witnesses, including the donor, he said.

Apandi said no reason was given for the donation, which was a matter between Najib and the Saudis. He said there was no proof the money was given as an inducement or reward to Najib in return for a favour.

“I am satisfied there is no evidence to show the donation was a form of gratification given corruptly,” Apandi said. “Based on the evidence from witnesses and supporting documents, I am satisfied no criminal offence has been committed in relation to the said ($681m) donation.”