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Malaysia says Middle East donors gave Najib about US$700 million

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The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said RM2.6 billion (S$927 million) that ended up in Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal accounts were from donors in the Middle East.

[KUALA LUMPUR] The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said RM2.6 billion (S$927 million) that ended up in Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal accounts were from donors in the Middle East.

The contributors confirmed their donations after the anti-graft agency traced them through documents seized from banks, it said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday. The MACC said it won't disclose the identities of the donors and plans to question Mr Najib to seek an explanation on the funds.

The Wall Street Journal reported on July 3 that US$700 million may have moved through government agencies and state-linked companies to accounts bearing Mr Najib's name. The premier has denied taking money for personal gain and has described the furor as part of a campaign to remove him from office.

Debt-ridden state investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd is the subject of overlapping probes by agencies including the central bank and the police. Controversy over 1MDB's finances has dogged Mr Najib for months, though an initial audit report didn't reveal any suspicious activity.

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Mr Najib chairs the advisory board of 1MDB and has resisted calls from ex-premier Mahathir Mohamad to step down over the fund's performance as it amassed about RM42 billion of debt in less than five years.

The task force investigating 1MDB comprises the central bank, police, the anti-corruption commission and attorney general's office. MACC said Wednesday that it was told by the attorney general that the task force was no longer needed and that each investigating party can conduct its own probe using its respective authority.

Facing his biggest crisis in six years in power, Mr Najib last week removed his deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who had called for answers on the 1MDB imbroglio including its investment decisions. The government said it also was replacing attorney general Abdul Gani Patail for health reasons, with former Federal Court judge Mohamed Apandi Ali taking the role.

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