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Donor or donors? The curious case of RM2.6b
Published:  Dec 8, 2015 3:55 AM
Updated: 4:12 AM

Several months have passed since the RM2.6 billion transaction erupted, but the issue seems to be still mired in confusion.

When the matter was first exposed by the Wall Street Journal and Sarawak Report based on documents leaked by Malaysian investigators, the nation was shell shocked.

After an initial silence, Putrajaya claimed the RM2.6 billion was a political donation from the Middle East.

But now, there seems to be a singular and plural dimension as well.

Yesterday, the New Straits Times reported that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had sent a team to the Middle East to meet with the "donor".

Investigations division director Azam Baki said the meeting was held recently, but could not disclose additional details, including the identity of the donor, as it is still being probed.

Since the onset, it is believed the colossal sum, transferred into Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's personal accounts prior to the 2013 general election, originated from a single source.

However, Najib, in an interview with NST , Utusan Malaysia and TV3 , said the sum had come from "donors" (penderma-penderma).

Although the reports published in NST and Utusan today quoted Najib as stating "donor", the recording of the interview published online has the prime minister using the plural form.

National news agency Bernama , on the other hand, reported that the prime minister mentioned "donors".

In media statements issued on Aug 3 and Aug 5, MACC confirmed that the sum was political donation and revealed that it had obtained details of the "donor".

Clarifying that the money was not from the allegation-riddled 1MDB, MACC said it obtained details of the donor from bank documents.

"Four letters were submitted to the bank when the large amount was deposited into the prime minister's account. In the documents, it is explained the RM2.6 billion is donation," added the commission.

The prime minister's critics, such as former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, remain unconvinced with the donation claim, saying the Arabs are not that generous.

Reiterating his criticism during an event last night, Mahathir claimed that even a "mad Arab" would not donate such an amount.

The replacement of Abdul Gani Patail as attorney-general, removal of Muhyiddin Yassin as deputy premier and numerous other incidents that followed the exposure led critics to wonder if the prime minister had something to hide.

However, Najib repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and claimed there is a conspiracy to topple him.

Apart from the RM2.6 billion, MACC is also probing the RM42 million transferred from SRC International Sdn Bhd via its subsidiaries into the prime minister's accounts in late 2014 and early 2015.

The Finance Ministry-owned SRC International is a former 1MDB subsidiary. Najib is also the finance minister.

Putrajaya has remained silent on this transaction, and opposition figures such as PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli had cautioned Najib not to describe this as a donation as well.

Recently, the SRC issue landed in the spotlight once again when the brother of murdered senior deputy public prosecutor Kevin Anthony Morais made a statutory declaration (SD).

In his SD, Charles Suresh Morais claimed Kevin had put down his initials on a purported charge sheet for Najib based on the SRC probe.

The authorities previously dismissed the charge sheet, exposed by Sarawak Report, as a fake document.

Eight people, including an army doctor with the rank colonel, have been charged in connection with Kevin's murder.

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