March 31, 2016 / 7:37 AM / 2 years ago

Malaysian PM Najib's brother received funds before 2013 elections: WSJ

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s brother received $7 million in funds that was transferred to his personal bank account from Najib’s before the country’s 2013 elections, the Wall Street Journal said, citing investigation documents.

Malaysia's CIMB Chairman Nazir Razak reacts at the launch of the report "Re-drawing the ASEAN Map: How companies are crafting new strategies in Southeast Asia" in Kuala Lumpur January 14, 2015. REUTERS/Olivia Harris

The funds was then disbursed to ruling party politicians, the Journal reported.

The funds transferred to Nazir Razak, chairman of state-controlled bank CIMB Group Holdings Bhd, was part of more than 500 transfers from Najib’s accounts before the elections, the bulk of which went to politicians, the Journal said.

Reuters has not independently verified those investigation documents.

Najib, who is president of the long-ruling United Malays National Organisation, is faced with calls to step down over corruption allegations after $681 million was discovered in his personal bank accounts. Najib has denied any wrongdoing, and maintained he did not take any money for personal gain.

A government-appointed Attorney General cleared Najib of any criminal offense or corruption earlier this year, claiming the funds was a political donation from the royal family of Saudi Arabia.

Such donations are not considered illegal in Malaysia.

Nazir confirmed to the Journal that he had received the $7 million, which he said was then disbursed by CIMB bank staff to ruling-party politicians according to the instructions of party leaders, whom he did not name.

A spokeswoman for CIMB said she could not immediately comment on the report.

Nazir said he believed the money originated with donations he had helped raise from Malaysian corporations and individuals for the elections.

“I had no knowledge whatsoever that these funds may have originated from any other source(s),” the Journal quoted Nazir as saying.

“The entire amount was paid out in cash to various recipients according to the instructions of the party president and the account was closed with a zero balance.”

The Journal report also said some of the money in Najib accounts were used for personal expenses including $15 million spent on luxury clothing, jewelry and a car.

In response to the Journal report, the Prime Minister’s office referred Reuters to its previous statements that said the funds was a gift from the royal family of Saudi Arabia.

It did not immediately respond to claims of payments from personal purchases.

Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Ryan Woo

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