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Najib defends authenticity of 'donation' letters

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 18): It is not unheard of for staff to sign letters on behalf of their employers, said former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (pictured) yesterday in a Facebook post as he defends the authenticity of several letters, purportedly from Saudi royalty, that he claimed were proof that the US$972 million that went into his AmBank account were personal donations to him.

He was responding to an article in The Edge Malaysia yesterday, which was headlined, 'Donation letters to Najib were not signed by Saudi prince'. The article revealed, citing sources, that the letters were actually not signed by Prince Abdulaziz Al-Saud in whose name the letters were issued, but by someone who claimed to be the latter's representative.

Investigators had met this representative who identified himself as Mohammad Abdullah Al Koman, who told them he was the person who prepared the letters and signed all of them on behalf of the prince, the weekly wrote. The weekly wrote that there were three similarly worded letters, purportedly from the same prince, that were presented to Ambank between 2011 and 2013 by Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, who was managing Najib's account, as evidence of the source of the money before it was transferred to Najib.

"Those who read the article without thinking further will conclude that I am trying to deceive the people.

"What is important is that we pay attention to how these letters that were received by the bank and I bear the same letterhead of the Prince Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and that all these letters have the same signature.

"At [this] time, I cannot verify what has been said by the investigator about the signatures, [but] what I do know in the world of business is that there are times when staff sign letters on behalf of their employers.

"However, what is clear is that, this article today did not specify the official bank document which showed the transfers of funds that followed were made via the bank account of the Saudi Arabia Finance Ministry and from the bank account owned by Prince Faisal bin Turkey bin Al-Saud in Saudi Arabia.

"All the funds transfers were also not disputed by the receiving bank or BNM (Bank Negara Malaysia)," Najib wrote in the social media post.

The article, he said, also did not state that he had returned RM2.6 billion to Tanore a few months after receiving it. "The return of this RM2.6 billion was also acknowledged by WSJ (Wall Street Journal) in the book 'The Billion Dollar Whale'. This proves that I did not steal or kept bilions of ringgit for my personal use and I am not a 'penyangak' (villain), 'penyamun' (robber), or 'pencuri' (thief), as I have been accused by various parties," he said.

"It is important to also note that the first letter with the same letterhead and signature dated Feb 1, 2011 [was] after King Abdullah promised to help me with funds and introduced [me] to Prince Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Prince Faisal. The letter was sent before the funds from Prince Faisal and the Saudi Arabia Finance Ministry were received.

"Then, on June 2011, both Prince Abdulaziz and Prince Faisal attended the engagement party of my daughter at Seri Perdana, where I thanked them for facilitating the donations on behalf of King Abdullah," he added.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on Sept 18, 2018.

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