Malaysian authorities have frozen six bank accounts as part of an investigation into allegations that hundreds of millions of dollars were transferred from a state investment fund to the personal accounts of Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail said Tuesday a special taskforce investigating the investment fund 1MDB for alleged impropriety has also seized documents related to 17 accounts at two banks for further investigation. He didn’t name the banks or say who the accounts belong to.
Najib has described the allegations as “vile” and “malicious”.
“Let me be very clear: I have never taken funds for personal gain as alleged by my political opponents – whether from 1MDB, SRC International or other entities, as these companies have confirmed,” he said in a statement on Facebook.
“It is now clear that false allegations such as these are part of a concerted campaign of political sabotage to topple a democratically elected Prime Minister.”
Abdul Gani confirmed on the weekend he had received documents from investigators that link Najib and 1MDB.
The existence of the documents, which allegedly show $700 million was wired from entities linked to 1MDB into Najib’s accounts, was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Friday.
The largest two transactions, it said, were for US$621 million (RM2.3 billion) and US$61 million allegedly made in March 2013, shortly before the national elections that year.
Najib has come under increasing political pressure since the controversial election win, with Malaysia’s economy struggling and his one-time mentor, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, turning against him. Many believe Mahathir still calls the shots in Malaysia.
While this is by far the most serious corruption allegation to be leveled against Najib, the free-spending ways of his wife Rosmah Mansor have long attracted international attention.
The New York Times reported earlier this year:
A notable episode involved the Birkin bags: A series of photos that went viral on social media in Malaysia showed Ms. Rosmah holding at least nine of the purses. They typically cost between $9,000 and $150,000 apiece.
… invoices and other documents obtained by The Times show millions of dollars in jewelry ordered for Ms. Rosmah in Hong Kong in 2008 and 2009.
In February, she hit the headlines again after she complained about the cost of the tailors and hairdressers who visit her home.
“We have to make beautiful clothes to attend functions, but the prices are way too high. For those who can afford, it’s all right. But what about housewives like us, with no income?” she said.
Additional reporting from Associated Press