Hong Kong probes bank deposits complainant links to Malaysia PM

PHOTO: Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR - Hong Kong police are investigating bank deposits a complainant said were linked to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, police said on Friday, as a probe into a troubled Malaysian state investment fund widens.

The investigation comes as another blow to Najib, who chairs the advisory board of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) , after Swiss authorities froze millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts linked to the firm on suspicion of corruption and money laundering.

Malaysian investigators are also looking into the fund, which has raked up over $11 billion (S$16 billion) in debt that has weighed on the country's economy.

Najib has denied taking any money from 1MDB or any other entity for personal gain. The Malaysian government dismissed the latest allegations about bank deposits as politically motivated.

Hong Kong police confirmed that they were probing a matter a complainant had linked to Najib. "A man reported to the police on August 30 and requested for the police's investigation on some bank deposits," Hong Kong police said in a statement in response to a question about an investigation into Najib.

"Investigations by Crime Headquarters are under way." The complaint was lodged by Khairuddin Abu Hassan, a former member of Najib's ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) who was sacked from the party earlier this year.

A vocal critic of Najib, Khairuddin told Reuters he said in the report that deposits of over $250 million were made into a Credit Suisse bank account in Hong Kong through four companies linked to Najib.

The Malaysian government spokesperson dismissed these latest allegations as "baseless and politically motivated lies". "The prime minister does not control any Credit Suisse bank accounts in Hong Kong, whether in his name or the name of the companies mentioned," the spokesperson said.

It said the complaint was a bid to smear Najib and accused Khairuddin of working with former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is leading a campaign to oust Najib.

"The prime minister has instructed for the full range of legal options to be explored - particularly the manufacturing of banking documents by certain individuals with malicious intent to smear and discredit a serving prime minister," it added.

A spokesman for Credit Suisse in Hong Kong declined to comment.

Najib faces the biggest test of his political career after reports earlier this year that investigators looking into 1MDB had traced nearly $700 million going into bank accounts in Malaysia they believed belonged to the prime minister.