Saudi minister changes tune again over RM2.6b deposit

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 26 – The government of Saudi Arabia are willing to assist Malaysian authorities in any investigation into the RM2.6 billion that was deposited into former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts in March 2013.

This was expressed by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Ahmed Al-Jubeir, who is on an official visit to Malaysia, during a meeting with his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah.

Adel also informed Saifuddin that the alleged RM2.6 billion donation has nothing to do with the government of Saudi Arabia.

The Star reported Saifuddin as saying that Adel had told him the same thing when they met at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York last month.

“He (Adel) stated that the donation had nothing to do with the Saudi government. Today, he reiterated it,” Saifuddin was quoted as saying.

Based on Saifuddin’s comments, Adel did not say that the RM2.6 billion deposit was not a donation, but only that the Saudi government was not involved.

Adel changes tune between February and April 2016

Based on previous statements from Adel, the comments today suggest that he was being coy, trying to avoid the main question of whether the RM2.6 billion was a donation or not and if the funds was from a Saudi citizen.

Back in February 2016, Adel told New York Times that he did not think the RM2.6 billion deposited in Najib’s personal bank accounts was a political donation, or that it originated from the Saudi government.

Instead, Al-Jubeir said the money was from an unspecified “investment”, saying that it was from “a private Saudi citizen”.

He changed his tune however, just two months later releasing an official statement, saying that the billions of ringgit deposited into Najib’s personal banking accounts were “a genuine donation from Saudi Arabia with nothing expected in return”.

Former AG Apandi Ali cleared Najib over RM2.6 billion deposit

The issue of the donation was first revealed when former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali held a press conference in February 2016, claiming that a son of a late Saudi king was the source of the US$681 million (RM2.6 billion at the time) deposited in Najib’s bank account, and that it was a donation. Apandi also cleared Najib of any wrongdoing pertaining to the deposit.

Najib was finally arrested and charged over the RM2.6 billion deposit last month.

He is currently facing a total of 38 charges over money laundering, tax evasion, abuse of power and criminal breach of trust directly or indirectly related to the deposit as well as other financial dealings related to 1MDB and its former subsidiary SRC.

Najib was the chairman of the 1MDB advisory board at the material time, when most of the offences related to 1MDB’s funds had occurred.

– NMT