WSJ refutes AG's Saudi donation claim
The Wall Street Journal ( WSJ ) has refuted attorney-general Mohamad Apandi Ali's claim that the money deposited into Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's private accounts was a donation from the Saudi royal family.
Its finance editor Ken Brown said this in an interview with ABC News Australia on Feb 12.
"Our reporting has shown for months now that the money did not come from the Saudis, but it came via a bunch of companies and bank accounts related to 1MDB.
“And you know, our story hasn't been called into question yet, and we have loads of evidence to back that up," he told ABC 's Beverley O'Connor.
Najib has denied the donation came from 1MDB and had sent a legal letter to WSJ to ask if it meant what it published.
He has not yet commenced legal proceedings against the business paper after it replied that it stands by its reporting.
Currently, the United Kingdom, the US, Switzerland, Singapore, and Hong Kong authorities are looking into the 1MDB affair though Najib has not been named in any of the investigations as yet.
Commenting on the Apandi's recent proposal to increase the punishment for those who leak state secrets, Brown believes that it is related to attempts by the Malaysian government to put the lid on the whole affair, amid "tightening restrictions on speech", as well as threats to any who spoke against the government.
"It's no surprise that it came after attempts by the government to say this money that went to the PM's bank accounts came from Saudi Arabia. The reality is no one really believes that; they got a big backlash on that. So now they come up and say now everyone can't speak on it," he said.
He believes that the Malaysian government is trying to limit discussion on the matter because the more the information comes out, the worse it gets for the government.
Brown also said although the prime minister appears to be consolidating power – clamping down on critics and getting away with it – the real action will come once overseas investigations into the matter unearth more damning evidence.
"Real action in the next few months will be in the overseas investigations and if they find real serious stuff, it will be hard for the Malaysians to ignore it," said Brown.
WSJ broke the news last year on the alleged financial improprieties involving sovereign fund 1MDB, linking the firm to movements of funds allegedly involving Najib and an alleged election slush fund.