A report yesterday that Saudi Arabia is running into bankruptcy has sparked discussion about the kingdom’s ability to hand out generous political donations.
Marina Mahathir, daughter of Najib’s current arch-enemy and predecessor Dr Mahathir Mohamad, asked, “If the Saudis are running out of money, why would they give such generous donations to other people?”
Although Marina did not mention names, she was likely referring to the mother of all donations that has occupied Malaysians over the past year - Prime Minister Najib Razak’s controversial RM2.6 billion 'donation' banked into his personal accounts.
The prominent social activist’s posting on her Facebook last night elicited a telling response from a reader: “When the donation was given, the Saudis were rich as price of petrol was more then RM100 per barrel.”
Marina quipped, “Oh true also. They must be grateful to get most of it back...”
The discussion centred on an article in American magazine The Atlantic last week titled ‘ Preparing for the Collapse of the Saudi Kingdom ’ that explored the problems the country was facing over sinking oil prices.
There have been reports on Saudi Arabia’s financial troubles as early as last year.
Najib innocent, foreign probes continue
Roughly eight months after financial daily The Wall Street Journal published an expose about the RM2.6 billion it alleged had been deposited into Najib’s accounts, and various Umno members months later claiming it to be a donation from the Middle East, attorney-general (AG) Mohamed Apandi Ali finally declared the money to be a donation from the Saudi Arabian royal family and hence above board.
Apandi also claimed investigations showed the money has been returned to the donors.
However, one Saudi minister has expressed his scepticism, claiming on Feb 5 that it was an “ investment ” rather than a donation.
The AG’s exoneration of Najib was shortlived as the Swiss AG announced on Jan 29, just three days after Apandi’s statements, that it is probing an alleged US4 billion misappropriated from Malaysian state companies.
Singapore has also commenced a probe into accounts linked to 1MDB.