Malaysiakini News

Najib 'stars' in BBC film on corrupt Saudi royals

Published:  |  Modified:

A new BBC documentary on the ongoing conflict surrounding Saudi Arabia’s royal family has prominently featured Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Episode Two of House of Saud: A Family at War, which was first aired on Tuesday, begins its story with Prince Turki Abdullah Al Saud's involvement in the genesis of Malaysia's beleaguered sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

Shortly after raising RM5 billion in mid-2009, 1MDB’s first venture involved investing USD1 billion in a joint-venture with little-known PetroSaudi International in September that year.

Whistleblower website Sarawak Report's editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown told BBC that this deal was hatched aboard the luxury yacht Alpha Nero in a meeting between Prince Turki and Najib, who was accompanied by his wife and children.

“1MDB had invested US$1 billion in the young Saudi prince’s company. But within days, US$700 million had gone missing.

“1MDB would go on to invest many more billions in other ventures. Most of this cash would also disappear,” says the documentary's narrator.

The documentary then goes on to describe US investigations into allegations of money laundering in relation to 1MDB and how this was linked to the transfer of large sums of money into Najib’s personal bank accounts.

Prince Turki, at some point, was then allegedly paid a hefty commission from 1MDB related monies, said the BBC.

This eight-minute long opener sets the stage for the rest of the hour-long episode which featured numerous experts explaining how Saudi royals often collect hefty commissions for government deals.

At one point, Prince Bandar Sultan Al Saud appears to justify corruption as 'human nature' and that corruption was endemic since the time of Adam and Eve.

"Now, if you tell me that building this whole country and spending US$350 billion out of US$400 billion where we had misused or got corrupted with US$50 billion, I'd tell you yes," he said.

The documentary was premised on Crown Prince Mohammad Salman’s anti-corruption drive which saw hundreds of Saudi Arabian VIPs, including Prince Turki, being detained indefinitely at the luxury Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh.
Malaysiakini cannot independently verify the claims made by the BBC.

Najib has repeatedly stated that the RM2.6 billion transferred to his personal bank accounts in 2013 was a Saudi donation and was not used for personal gain.

After news on the mystery funds broke in July 2015, a multi-agency task force was formed to probe the allegations.

The task force was broken up with the shock removal of then attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail. His successor Apandi Ali cleared Najib of any wrongdoing in January 2016.

Najib enjoys close ties with Saudi royals and has even contributed a 16-hectare piece of land in Putrajaya for the King Salman Centre for International Peace (KSCIP).

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