WSJ articles self-explanatory, Dow Jones says in reply to PM's lawyers

Dow Jones & Company Inc has stated that it is not necessary for it to clarify if two articles published by the Wall Street Journal were intended to accuse Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak of misappropriating 1Malaysia Development Berhad funds.

In a reply to the Prime Minister's lawyers, the company which owns WSJ, said the report published on July 2 and a subsequent opinion piece on July 6 were self-explanatory as they "were based on available facts".

"In your letter, you 'seek confirmation as to whether it is [our] position as taken in [The News Article and The Opinion] that [your] Client misappropriated nearly US$700milĀ  (S$943mil) belonging to 1Malaysia Development Berhad'.

"We believe your request is unnecessary as The News Article and The Opinion speak for themselves," Dow Jones' counsel and chief compliance officer Jason P. Conti was quoted as saying in a letter which was sighted by the Malay Mail Online.

The company was responding to a request for confirmation from Najib's lawyers, Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak Advocates & Solicitors, in a letter dated July 8.

The letter from Najib's law firm had urged Dow Jones to state its position on the articles as they collectively suggested that WSJ was unsure of the original source of the money and what happened to it, yet attempted to create an impression that the Prime Minister was guilty of misappropriating the US$700mil.

However, Conti noted that the July 2 article, titled "Malaysia leader's accounts probed", had expressly noted that the money trail did not indicate how the funds were spent.

The lawyer also pointed out that the July 2 piece was a news report while the July 6 article, titled "Scandal in Malaysia" was an opinion piece that was based upon facts which had emerged.

"As a result, it is quite clear the news article is a fair and accurate summary of current events, and the opinion includes reasonable commentary based on those facts.

"Any suggestion otherwise is misplaced and baseless," Conti was quoted as saying by the Malay Mail Online.

He added that the US publisher had yet to appoint legal representatives in Malaysia as legal action had yet to be taken against WSJ for its reports.

"If and when you do so, we will consider the appointment of appropriate solicitors in Malaysia," Conti wrote in the letter, which reached Najib's lawyers on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister's law firm had given Dow Jones a 14-day deadline to confirm its accusations against their client, instead of issuing the usual letter of demand. Attempts to reach Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun, who is one of Najib's lawyers, were unsuccessful.

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