Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak spent lavishly on luxury goods overseas, including on jewellery and clothes, using funds diverted from a state investment fund, according to a new report based on a probe into his bank transaction records.
Mr Najib’s personal spending in the US, Europe and Malaysia was in excess of US$15 million, during a period between 2011 and 2014, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Thursday (Mar 31).
The report alleges that the Prime Minister spent about US$14 million at one luxury Malay clothing retailer as well as €775,000 at a jewellery store in Italy. Mr Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor was a client of the jewellers at a different branch.
Ms Rosmah has a reputation in Malaysia for a purportedly high-end lifestyle, and has made the headlines over claims of excessive spending.
The report suggests some of this spending was made using a credit card linked to one of several private bank accounts at the centre of a corruption scandal.
Mr Najib has been engulfed in an ongoing controversy after revelations that about US$700 million was deposited into his personal bank accounts ahead of the 2013 general elections.
The sum has since been described as political donations from the Saudi royal family and Mr Najib was found not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing by the country's attorney-general.
The Prime Minister has also maintained his innocence, insisting no money was used for personal gain.
Since then, however, reports have alleged more deposits were made into five personal accounts belonging to Mr Najib between 2011 to 2015, taking the total to more than US$1 billion.
NAZIR RAZAK IMPLICATED
The report also reveals that the brother of Mr Najib reportedly acknowledged receiving nearly US$7 million from his brother ahead of the 2013 general elections.
Mr Nazir Razak, who is also the chairperson of CIMB Group Holdings, told WSJ that the money was disbursed by CIMB bank staff to ruling-party politicians, according to the instructions of party leaders.
He said he believed the money originated "with donations he had helped raise from Malaysian corporations and individuals for the elections", WSJ reported. It is unclear if the "he" refers to Mr Nazir or Mr Najib.
“I had no knowledge whatsoever that these funds may have originated from any other source(s),” Mr Nazir said in a statement quoted by WSJ.
“The entire amount was paid out in cash to various recipients according to the instructions of the party president and the account was closed with a zero balance.”