Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak attends the opening of the new World Bank offices in Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2016
Olivia Harris—Reuters
By Nash Jenkins
March 31, 2016

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has bought millions of dollars worth of luxury items using funds that investigators believe were siphoned from a struggling state development fund, according to a Wall Street Journal report published Thursday morning local time.

It is the latest development in a scandal that has embroiled Najib and led many Malaysians — including former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, once Najib’s political mentor — to demand his resignation.

Last July, the Journal and the London-based investigative news website Sarawak Report reported that Najib’s personal accounts held nearly $700 million in funds that had been traced to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a debt-saddled investment fund launched by Najib during his first months in office in 2009. (Last month, the Journal reported that the sum was larger than originally believed — upwards of $1 billion.)

Najib has since denied all allegations of malfeasance, insisting that the massive sum in his accounts was a foreign campaign donation, and that none of it went towards personal spending.

However, the report in the Journal claims that the Prime Minister and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, spent around $15 million on jewelry, clothes, and a luxury automobile in transactions linked to these same accounts. The report, citing documents from a Malaysian investigation into Najib, describes expenses at a luxury-car dealership in Kuala Lumpur, a jewelry store in Italy, and a Chanel outpost in Honolulu, where Rosmah appears to have spent more than $130,000 in December 2014. Two days later, Najib played golf with U.S. President Barack Obama.

The pace of Najib’s alleged malfeasance is potentially underscored in a report published on Tuesday by the Australian Broadcasting Corp., which claimed that money was moving so quickly into the Prime Minister’s bank accounts that his bank’s money-laundering alarms were triggered.

[WSJ]

 

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