Despite supposed confirmation by unnamed sources to the BBC and other British press that the Saudi royal family was the source of RM22.08 billion (US$681 million) deposited in Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal account in 2013, that story appears likely to blow up in the premier’s face, sources in Kuala Lumpur say. Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali made the assertion about the source of the money in a Jan. 26 press conference.
The source of the confirmation is believed to be either Nawaf Obaid, the brother of Tarek Obaid, the head of PetroSaudi International, the mysterious Middle Eastern oil company funded by the troubled 1Malaysia Development Bhd. state-backed investment fund, or Nawaf’s friend and business partner, Prince Turki bin Abdullah, the seventh son of the late King Abdullah. Both are connected to the renegade Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, as he is known, who collaborated with Najib in creating 1MDB in 2009 and who is suspected of looting the fund for hundreds of millions of dollars. He is said to be living currently in Taiwan.
Neither of the Saudis has enough money to donate US$681 million to Najib, and it is unlikely they know anybody who does have and would be willing to make such a donation, sources in Kuala Lumpur say.
“There is nobody in Malaysia who believes this story,” said a well-wired political analyst. “Turki hasn’t got two dollars to rub together.”
The Wall Street Journal reported on Jan. 27 that a Saudi government official, “while declining to comment specifically on the prosecutor’s statement, said the Saudi ministries of foreign affairs and finance had no information about such a gift and that a royal donation to the personal bank account of a foreign leader would be unprecedented.”
Other news sources say the Saudi government has begun an investigation to determine if any funds went to Najib, which is considered very unlikely.
Nawaf Obaid, on his way to becoming a major Washington, DC fixer for the House of Saud, has been heavily involved in providing favors for Najib, reportedly including paving the way for the famous Hawaii golf game in which Najib partnered with US President Barack Obama in January of 2015.
Apandi Ali’s Jan. 26 press conference has already turned into a major embarrassment, beginning when an enterprising press photographer using a long lens took pictures of the papers he was waving, purportedly to prove Najib had no case to answer. Close-ups of documents held up by Apandi showed colored charts and diagrams prepared by investigators which revealed a complex trail in which RM27 million plus RM46 million were made to the Prime Minister – sums that have never previously been mentioned. He then funneled these payments through two further accounts to manage credit cards and payments to what are termed “17 recipients,” who received over RM23 million between them.
Democratic Party Spokesman Tony Pua held a press conference the next day to point out that additional transactions were revealed in charts held up by Apandi during his press conference.