Proof needed in WSJ claims about China-1MDB deal: Mahathir

Proof needed in WSJ claims about China-1MDB deal: Mahathir
PHOTO: Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR - The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government needs to get its hands on documents cited by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) which linked China to state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Thursday (Jan 10) that the documents were needed before the claim could be accepted.

He said until then, no action could be taken.

"We need to find the documents to be used as proof that this actually happened.

"At the moment, this is just a story in the press," he said when asked about The Journal's report which was published on Monday.

The report claimed that senior Chinese leaders offered in 2016 to help bail out 1MDB which was at the centre of a swelling, multibillion-dollar graft scandal. The report cited minutes from a series of previously undisclosed meetings.

Chinese officials told visiting Malaysians that China would use its influence to try to get the United States and other countries to drop their probes of allegations that allies of then-Prime Minister Najib Razak and others plundered the fund, the report said.

The Chinese also offered to bug the homes and offices of Journal reporters in Hong Kong who were investigating the fund, to learn who was leaking information to them, according to the minutes.

In return, Malaysia offered lucrative stakes in railway and pipeline projects for China's One Belt, One Road programme of building infrastructure abroad.

Within months, Mr Najib - who has denied any wrongdoing in the 1MDB matter - signed US$34 billion (S$45.93 billion) of rail, pipeline and other deals with Chinese state companies, to be funded by Chinese banks and built by Chinese workers.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) had said US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by top Malaysian officials and their associates. The financier in the case, Jho Low, also known as Low Taek Jho, was charged in federal court in New York late last year in connection with the theft and money laundering.

Najib and the Chinese embassy in Malaysia have dismissed the Journal's allegations as "groundless" while Low claimed the report is "a continuation of a trial by media" led by Tun Dr Mahathir.

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