In 2017, a total of RM1 million meant to help orphans were allegedly misappropriated to pay legal fees of a lawyer, who was also an aide to former prime minister Najib Razak, according to a news report
The report by The Malaysian Insight said that the funds were entrusted to the Malaysian Islamic Economic Development Foundation (YAPEIM) and that they were allegedly used for legal fees involving a suit against the charity trust fund.
YAPEIM is supported by the government with the prime minister as its patron.
"According to discussion notes on the financial expenditure of YAPEIM, the money was channelled to settle legal fees to the lawyer, who was an advisor to former prime minister Najib, as well as a director for YAPEIM in 2017.
"The case involved a suit by founders for the Foundation for the Advancement of Orphans and the Poor (PEMANGKIN), who charged that YAPEIM had used its funds to sponsor former minister in the prime minister's department Jamil Khir Baharom to trips to Europe, the United States and Australia," The Malaysian Insight reported.
As per the report, the lawyer allegedly intended to shut down PEMANGKIN, which was placed under YAPEIM to bury the scandal
The Malaysian Insight reported that the founders of PEMANGKIN filed the suit in March 2017, alleging that the lawyer had intended to shut down the foundation
"The lawyer was a member of YAPEIM's board of trustees from 2017-2019 and a former director for the strategic planning department of the Prime Minister’s Department.
"Apart from the lawyer, PEMANGKIN also sued the former minister Jamil Khir and five other board of directors of YAPEIM," the news portal reported today, 11 May.
The payments were allegedly made in stages and small amounts in order to avoid the approval of the YAPEIM board of directors
"The lawyer was found to have made payments exceeding RM1 million in several tranches to two different law firms, in small amounts each time.
"The legal fees did not get the approval from the YAPEIM board of directors; in fact, the payments made to the lawyers did not exceed RM50,000 (each time) to avoid having to get the approval of the board of directors," The Malaysian Insight reported.
Following the news report, Najib took to his Facebook page to allege that the portal's use of his photo and his name was an "evil propaganda" aimed at tarnishing his image on the polling day
"The name and photo of Najib were used although this issue has nothing to do with Najib. And the payment of legal fees to defend YAPEIM and its board members in a suit was alleged as 'misappropriation'.
"This is their way. It does not matter if it is the month of Ramadan or not," Najib said in the Facebook post, as reported by Malaysiakini.