Opposition MP Tony Pua accused Second Finance Minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah of "blatantly lying" for saying that the Auditor-General's ongoing investigation into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) "found no evidence of wrong doing".
"Any normal person" reading the A-G's embargoed preliminary report presented to the bipartisan parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last week "will be stunned by the sheer number and scale of infractions and transgressions committed by 1MDB and its officers", said Mr Pua, who sits on the committee.
The minister's remarks on Tuesday suggested that Prime Minister Najib Razak would be absolved of allegations that US$700 million (S$949 million) linked to troubled 1MDB had been deposited into his personal bank accounts.
"On the contrary, the US$700 million transaction raised many suspicious questions which the National Audit Department said it needed to investigate further before making its final conclusions," said Mr Pua, the Democratic Action Party's publicity chief.
PAC chairman Nur Jazlan Mohamed also told The Straits Times on Tuesday that it was too soon to draw any conclusion as the audit would be completed only at year's end.
Datuk Seri Husni's dismissal of "reckless allegations" against 1MDB and the Prime Minister on Tuesday also prompted opposition leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to call for the report to be made public so that Malaysians could see for themselves if what the minister said was true.
'Social media experiment'
A new anti-graft watchdog claimed a former AmBank officer was sacked in 2013 over a total of S$21 million being deposited into Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal bank accounts, only to admit hours later that it was a hoax.
The money was purportedly channelled to the ruling Barisan Nasional's component parties before the country's general election in May that year, according to the Citizens for Accountable Governance Malaysia (CAGM).
The group supported its claim by producing an affidavit purportedly from the officer. But the officer's name and address were redacted as were the name of his superior and the details of the recipient's account.
Last night, however, the group said in a blog post that the whole matter was "just an experiment in social media in Malaysia", according to the Malaysian Insider.
The story "only grew" because it was supported by editors who refused to check facts and who thrived on reporting sensational news, the group said.
"There are no 2,000-over members in CAGM and we don't have millions in our account to give to whistleblowers," it said.
"And no, we don't have a SD (statutory declaration) that implicates the PM in any financial misdeeds."
A Cabinet minister claimed there is "solid evidence" that the opposition conspired with the Sarawak Report website to forge documents in a "mission to criminalise Datuk Seri Najib and 1MDB".
Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan told reporters that a police report had been made. There was also a video confession of "forgery of facts" by an alleged editor of the website.
Datuk Rahman, who is the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition's strategic communications director, did not reveal the identity of the complainant or the editor, but said "the names of some opposition leaders" were mentioned in the video.
He said the complainant had also handed over a copy of a March 1, 2015, e-mail allegedly by the London-based website's operator Clare Rewcastle Brown, in which she wrote: "Thanks! Yes it was quite a job! Sitting up night after night cleverly 'forging' all those documents!!!".
Prime Minister Najib Razak and other leaders of his Umno party have repeatedly alleged that an international conspiracy is afoot to undermine his government.
On July 3, a report by the Wall Street Journal alleged that US$700 million (S$949 million) linked to the state investment agency 1Malaysia Development Berhad had been deposited in his private bank accounts over the past two years.
This article was first published on July 16, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.