Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and it’s growing increasingly evident that something fishy went on with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak‘s campaign in the 2013 election. A Malaysian opposition party has filed suit against prime minister, alleging his coalition massively exceeded campaign spending limits in the 2013 elections.
In a statement published Wednesday, the opposition People’s Justice Party claims that Najib spent 2.6 billion ringgit ($646 million) that illegally ended up in his personal accounts for campaign purposes during the 2013 election. That figure represents over 26 times the amount Najib’s alliance was allowed to spend on the election based on Malaysian law.
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The charges against Najib first surfaced back in early July when the Wall Street Journal reported that close to $700 million was transferred through various government agencies and firms connected to state investment company Malaysia Development before ending up in accounts under Najib’s name. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said the 2.6 billion ringgit in Najib’s accounts was from donors in the Middle East.
Neither PM Najib’s office, the Malaysian Election Commission nor 1MDB were willing to comment on the lawsuit.
In the past, 1MDB has categorically denied funneling funds to Najib’s accounts. “1MDB wishes to make clear that the company has never provided any funds to the prime minister,” according to a statement last month. “To suggest otherwise, as some media outlets have done, is highly irresponsible and a deliberate attempt to undermine the company.”
Statement from Malaysia PM Najib in July
“There have been concerted efforts by certain individuals to undermine confidence in our economy, tarnish the government, and remove a democratically-elected prime minister,” Najib’s office commented in a statement released in early July. “These latest claims, attributed to unnamed investigators as a basis to attack the prime minister, are a continuation of this political sabotage.”
More on lawsuit against Najib by opposition party
The prime minister has said he did not take money for personal gain, and has described the scandal as part of a campaign to force him from office.
Quoting Najib, the political funds received in his accounts were to meet the party and community’s needs and this is not a new practice, the official Bernama news agency reported on August 9th.
The People’s Justice Party (which filed the lawsuit) is also suing 1MDB and the Election Commission, and also claims that results of the 2013 elections should be nullified and calls for new elections.
Political analysts point out that Najib’s ruling Barisan Nasional coalition actually lost the popular vote in May 2013, but managed to maintain a parliamentary majority. Malaysian law requires that the next elections be held before the end of 2018.
This election finance controversy has marred Najib’s administration for a number of months now. He has pointed to the fact that an initial audit report by the Election Commission did not reveal any major problems.
Najib is the chairman of the advisory board of 1MDB. He has faced calls from ex-PM Mahathir Mohamad to step down from his position because of the fund’s very poor performance (42 billion ringgit of debt in under five years).