Saudi Arabia says money sent to Malaysian PM was a ‘genuine donation’

Saudi Arabia said on Thursday that $681m (£479m) transferred into Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal bank account was a “genuine donation”.

Najib faced corruption allegations after the transfer was discovered last year. Fighting for his political life, the premier was cleared in January by the Malaysian attorney general, who said the cash was a gift from the royal family in Saudi Arabia.

Asked at the summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul if he was aware of the details of the political donation, Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said: “It is a genuine donation with nothing expected in return.

“And we are also fully aware that the attorney general of Malaysia has thoroughly investigated the matter and found no wrongdoing,” he added.

“So, as far as we are concerned, the matter is closed,” he said, without elaborating on who donated the money or why.

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The Malaysian and Saudi governments had a bilateral meeting in Istanbul before the comments were made.

Malaysia says the money was donated in support of Najib’s fight against extremism.

In February, al-Jubeir was quoted in the New York Times as saying he believed the funds “went to an investment in Malaysia” but did not confirm they were a gift.

The Malaysian government is also dealing with allegations that billions of dollars were taken from debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The scandal deepened last week when a Malaysian parliamentary committee suggested misconduct had occurred and said the fund should be investigated further.

Although Najib was not named directly in the report, opposition politicians said the prime minister should be held culpable for his role in the fund. Najib chairs 1MDB’s advisory board.

The 1MDB fund remains the subject of at least four investigations across the world. On Wednesday, Switzerland widened its corruption probe into 1MDB to include officials from the United Arab Emirates.

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