Saudi Arabia’s $681 million donation to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was “genuine,” according to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, Malaysian state news agency reported Friday. Najib has been embroiled in a corruption scandal at state-run fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Al-Jubeir said that Saudi officials were aware of the donation and it was made without accepting anything in return, news agency Bernama reported. Malaysia’s Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali thoroughly investigated the case and did not find the donation to be unlawful, the Saudi minister added.
“So, as far as we are concerned, the matter is closed,” Al-Jubeir said.
Najib, who set up 1MDB in 2009 to boost economic growth in Malaysia, has consistently denied the corruption allegations, first made in a July 2015 report by the Wall Street Journal, which said that investigators tracked money from an account at Falcon Private Bank in Singapore to accounts in Malaysia.
In January, Apandi did not prosecute Najib for corruption allegations, saying the money was a “personal donation” from the Saudi royal family. However, he did not elaborate on why the royal family donated the money or what it was used for.
Earlier this month, the bipartisan Public Accounts Committee said the fund’s board — headed by Najib — did not carry out its responsibilities and that its former CEO Shahrol Halmi should be probed. The PAC report stated that the fund’s advisory board — headed by Prime Minister Najib Razak — should be abolished and any reference to the prime minister must be changed to finance minister in 1MDB’s memo and related documents.
However, the 1MDB board replied to the PAC, in a statement, that it carried out its responsibility well and was not involved in any corruption.
“The board believes it has carried out its role and responsibility to the best of its ability, including the implementation of various corporate governance measures such as establishing standard operating procedures for the company and setting up a board audit and risk management committee,” 1MDB’s statement read.