Najib Abdul Razak has once again stressed that it is normal for the Umno president to handle contributions to the party, especially during election season.
In a Facebook post today, the former Umno president said this has been standard practice since the time of his predecessor, Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“Maybe many do not know this, but the Umno president is responsible for handling all party assets, including accepting political contributions from businesspersons, individuals, NGOs and corporations.
“The Umno president is also entrusted with moving money and making payments for the party’s necessity during elections.
“All this is written in the Umno constitution, and has been the practice since Mahathir’s time,” he said.
Najib's post comes a day after lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah admitted to receiving RM9.5 million from him in 2013 and 2014, claiming that the payment was for legal services rendered to Umno and BN.
Shafee had said he was “made to understand that Najib was made responsible for handing (sic) the party's funds.”
The lawyer's statement comes following "new information" revealed by PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim confirming that Shafee had received two payments of RM4.3 million and RM5.2 million.
The new evidence was submitted by a special task officer to the attorney-general in response to Anwar's appeal against his second sodomy conviction.
Anwar had previously argued that he was denied a fair trial in the conviction because his prosecutor had received payment from Najib.
Mahathir built a vault
In his post, Najib also pointed out that Mahathir had a vault and a safe constructed in both the Prime Minister’s Office and official residence Seri Perdana.
Cash received by Umno, he said, would be kept here for the purpose of funding political and electoral operations, such as for paying off vendors after elections.
Najib added that after BN’s unexpected defeat in the last general election, the cash was moved by officers to an apartment at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur as a temporary measure.
He said, however, that before any decision could be made on how to handle the case and to see who would succeed him as Umno president, the apartment was raided and the cash was seized.
“This money is the party’s money. That is why Umno has prepared a counsel team to negotiate with the authorities to reclaim the money.
“There wasn’t this much money being kept at the Pavilion apartment or in my house before the elections, and not this much cash kept in the Prime Minister’s Office during the non-election season,” he said.
As for some of the seized cash being in different currencies, Najib noted that authorities also sezied from his two children’s houses as well as his house on Jalan Duta.
“Anyone who often visits and works overseas, will surely have leftover, unused foreign currency in their house. My family and I are no different.
“The foreign currency (seized) was only a small amount."
According to Najib, he was explaining the above again since it has been more than three months since the seizure, and despite discussions and negotiations, the money has not been returned to Umno.
He added that he would also explain the seizure of jewellery and luxury handbags in a later Facebook post.