The Malaysian Prime Minister's Office on Tuesday (Mar 1) reiterated that funds transferred to Prime Minister Najib Razak's bank accounts were a donation from Saudi Arabia, following the Wall Street Journal's latest report.
"As stated by the Attorney-General of Malaysia, the funds received were a donation from Saudi Arabia. This has been verified by multiple lawful authorities who conducted exhaustive investigations," said the PMO in a statement.
"This included Malaysian authorities travelling to Saudi Arabia to examine documentation and interview members of the Royal Family and officials that administered the donation. The Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia has also confirmed that the funds came from Saudi Arabia."
The WSJ on Tuesday reported that deposits into Mr Najib's bank accounts ran into US$1 billion, more than the US$681 million earlier identified. The paper added that global investigators believe much of the funds originated from state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The PMO accused WSJ and its entities of "continuing their attacks and trying to link 1MDB to the donation".
Said the PMO: "They keep repeating the same old allegations without providing evidence; they keep relying solely on anonymous sources that might not even exist; and they keep choosing to omit key known facts. This is unethical and against accepted journalistic practice."
1MDB has also maintained it has never transferred money to Mr Najib's accounts. Responding to the article, it said WSJ had not once offered any conclusive evidence to support its claims, and that its reliance on anonymous sources betrayed a lack of basic journalistic standards.
NAJIB SHOULD SUE IF REPORTS UNTRUE: MAHATHIR
Fresh from announcing his decision to quit UMNO, a party he helmed for more than 20 years, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad took a swipe at Mr Najib.
"If (reports of the scandal) are not true, the prime minister should sue them for false reporting,” said Dr Mahathir. “I will continue to expose the wrongdoing of Najib because I wouldn't like to see this country led by somebody who has done a lot of wrong things."
UMNO leaders meanwhile, have thrown their support behind Mr Najib in response to the latest allegations.
"He has already explained, we follow our prime minister, we support him. That’s more important now,” said Abu Bakar Mohd Diah, the deputy minister for science, technology and innovation.
However, not everyone has agreed.
When Dr Mahathir announced his decision to leave UMNO on Monday, he accused Mr Najib of turning it into his own party to protect himself from criminal prosecution and tighten his grip on power.
Although Dr Mahathir has been known to get what he wants - he quit in 2008 to force former prime minister Abdullah Badawi to resign - this time round, analysts said it will be easier said than done.
"Most of the current leaders are closer to Najib in terms of generation, they came up with him, work with and for him so if Dr M doesn't have much of an impact in swaying the current leadership, it is because they are of a different generation than he is, so the impact is probably not much in the short term. But again if the public support changes and the Malay ground shifts against UMNO, it could have an impact,” said KRA Research manager Keith Leong.
With the next general election not due till 2018, analysts told Channel NewsAsia that Mr Najib does not need to worry about grassroots sentiments at least for now, not when UMNO's powerful divisional chiefs are rallying firmly behind him.