Yesterday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad revealed that investigators have an "almost perfect" case against former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak regarding the multi-billion dollar 1MDB scandal
1. On his involvement in the 1MDB scandal
In the exclusive interview with Reuters, Najib maintained that despite founding 1MDB in 2009, he knows nothing about how hundreds of millions of dollars from the state fund appeared in his personal account, or whether the money was eventually laundered to acquire assets globally.
"I was not aware of these purchases. This was done without my knowledge. I would never authorise 1MDB funds to be used for any of these items. I've been in government so long, I know what's right and what's wrong," he said.
Instead, the 64-year-old, who chaired the 1MDB advisory board, pointed a finger at his advisors, the management, and the board of 1MDB, who he claimed had wrongly kept the alleged embezzlement of funds a secret from him.
"I am saying as a general principle, if they are in the know that something is not right, then it is incumbent upon them to tell me... It is the fiduciary duty of the board and the management to do the right thing. I expect them to do the right and to follow the law."
2. On Jho Low
When asked about Jho Low, the financier Malaysian investigators have named as a key figure who benefited from 1MDB funds, Najib explained that Low was never asked to get involved in 1MDB nor was he ever working on the politician's behalf.
However, Najib revealed that, "He (Low) did say he was acting for someone else."
"I didn’t give him instructions, but he volunteered to do certain things, which he thought would help 1MDB. But whatever he did ultimately is the responsibility of the management and board," Najib explained.
"We have no control over what he does. I cannot pass judgement. But there are certain things which he may or may not have done. But I am alright to say that investigations should proceed and if anyone is found to be on the wrong side of the law, let the legal process take its course," he added.
When asked if he was still in touch with Low, Najib said that, "We have cut off communication again. I don’t know where he is."
3. On the luxury items and millions in cash seized from his properties
Najib said the public seizure of handbags and other luxury items during raids at several properties connected to his family has created a negative perception of him. However, the former premier stood by his claims that most of the items were gifts given to his wife and daughter and had nothing to do with 1MDB.
"Yes, these were gifts, particularly with my daughter's they were tagged, they were actually labelled: When, by whom," he said, adding that a lot of them were wedding presents.
Najib said his son-in-law Daniyar Nazarbayev, the nephew of Kazakstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, gifted many of the designer handbags to his wife Rosmah Mansor.
"People might find it hard to understand, but my son-in-law for example, he gets Birkin from his source, five or six at one go," he said.
"His family has got some means, so it has nothing to do with 1MDB if it comes from Kazakhstan," Najib said.
When asked about the RM114 million in cash seized during the police raids, Najib explained that the cash were party funds belonging to UMNO.
Najib said that, "I'm maintaining that they are genuine donations, because the raid happened just two days after the GE (general election). As president of the party, I had to prepare for the elections, and elections are very expensive affairs."
"Because donations are made in cash in election times. You don't send cheques during election times, because people want cash. That is when monies are disbursed accordingly," the politician explained.
4. On the pink diamond
Among the alleged assets bought with funds from 1MDB is a 22-carat pink diamond pendant and necklace. According to The Coverage, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) had reported that Rosmah was linked to the purchases of jewelry worth almost RM128.29 million, including the pink diamond.
When asked about the jewellery set, Najib said that, "I do not know exactly the source of funding for these things. All I know is when I asked my wife, she said that there was one instance it was supposed to be a gift for her. But she never received it."
"And until today we do not know... she says the item is not in her possession," he reiterated.
5. On BN's "catastrophic" loss during GE14
On whether he had predicted such a shocking result on 9 May, Najib said that, "I saw part of it coming. I didn't expect it to be this catastrophic. I thought we could possibly lose some seats but I didn't expect this sort of dramatic result, this calamitous result."
Calling the experience "traumatic", the politician blamed BN's defeat on Pakatan Harapan's strategy involving fake news and slander.
"They (opposition) came up with very scurrilous allegations to defame me and the government. Unfortunately after a period of time, it changed public opinion," he said.
6. On how Tun Dr Mahathir pulled off a historic win for Pakatan Harapan
"He knew BN, he knew the civil service. He knew everything about the system so he operated from within and from without, so that had a distinct advantage," Najib told Reuters.
"He was quite clever in a way, that he summarised everything in very simple terms and repeated ad nauseum the same same thing over and over again. The other point that I felt in a way bad about it, is that we didn't lose to a superior agenda," he said.
7. On his involvement in Altantuya's murder case
"The Altantuya case has already been dealt with," the former premier maintained.
"There is no evidence whatsoever that I ever met her, there are no records, no pictures or witness to say that I even knew her," Najib said, adding that, "It was subject to a proper trial and my name didn't come up during the trial whatsoever."
According to Najib, he had even "sworn in a mosque in the name of Allah" that he had nothing to do with the Mongolian woman's murder case, which Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad re-evaluated in a meeting yesterday.
8. On his alleged plans to flee the country
During the interview with Reuters, the former prime minister made assurances that he will be staying in Malaysia even if he faces the possibility of going to jail.
"No, I never had plans to leave. Because if I leave, there's presumption of guilt," he said, explaining that, "I cannot be a fugitive for the rest of my life. I want to clear my name."
Yesterday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad revealed that investigators are inching towards bringing "a number of charges" against Najib:
Najib is just one of several state leaders who were accused of corruption and collusion in recent years. Read about what happened to some of them here: