Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak spent about $15 million on luxury goods from his personal bank accounts that investigators believe came from the indebted state-run fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd., the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Najib, who set up 1MDB in 2009 to spur economic growth in the country, has been linked to a corruption scandal at the fund from which $681 million was traced to the premier's bank accounts.
Authorities probing the money laundering allegations said that Malaysian investigation documents, which include Najib’s bank transfer information, showed that most of the financial transactions over a five-year period originated from the investment fund, the Journal reported. Najib used some of the money for personal expenses such as clothes, jewelry and a car across stores in the United States, Malaysia, Italy and elsewhere, the report added.
The report is in contrast to Najib and his allies’ arguments who say that none of the money was used for the 62-year-old’s personal expenses. Najib has consistently denied the allegations, first made in a July 2015 report by the Journal, which said that investigators tracked the money from an account at Falcon Private Bank in Singapore to accounts in Malaysia.
In January, Malaysia's Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali did not prosecute Najib for corruption allegations, saying the money was a “personal donation” from the Saudi royal family. However, Apandi did not elaborate on why the royal family donated the money or what it was used for.
The Malaysian investigation documents, however, refute Apandi's statement, according to the Journal. The documents show that the transfers from a person in Saudi Arabia and from the kingdom's finance ministry were made much earlier in 2011 and 2012, and are of smaller amounts, making up to $200 million.
The documents also showed that Najib made over 500 payments from his accounts. Tens of millions of dollars of such transactions were carried out ahead of the May 2013 elections, which Najib’s party reportedly risked losing for the first time since the country’s independence from Britain in 1957.
Apart from Malaysia, the 1MDB probe is ongoing in the U.S., Singapore, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi.