‘Najib always assumes people are stupid,’ says Dr M

Zurairi Ar And Joe Lee
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during an exclusive interview with 'Malay Mail' at his office in the Perdana Leadership Foundation at Putrajaya June 21,2018. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

PUTRAJAYA, June 21 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad called Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s bluff today, after the latter claimed that the alleged embezzlement of funds from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) was kept secret from him.

The seventh prime minister told Malay Mail in an exclusive interview today that it was impossible for his immediate predecessor to be unaware of the transactions when Najib’s signature was all over the related documents.

“Who wants to believe him that he didn’t know, when he signed [his name]? Every bit of money that goes in and out of the first borrowing of RM42 billion, all his signature.

“If he doesn’t know, it must be that he doesn’t understand what a signature means,” Dr Mahathir said.

1MDB had amassed RM42 billion in debt in the years since its inception in 2009, and Dr Mahathir had questioned its whereabouts since 2015.

In June 2015, 1MDB chief executive Arul Kanda Kandasamy had attempted to explain where the money went, and provided a detailed breakdown.

Speaking to international news agency Reuters in a report published yesterday, Najib blamed his advisers and the 1MDB board for not disclosing the alleged embezzlement to him.

Najib claimed he was unaware that the money moved through his personal account was from 1MDB, and if it was laundered to buy assets which included yachts, paintings, jewellery, and real estate.

“We have all those. We know how much money goes into his account,” Dr Mahathir commented today, referring to the documents proving Najib’s involvement in moving the money.

Dr Mahathir had earlier this week told Reuters that the authorities have “an almost perfect case” against Najib to charge him of embezzlement, misappropriation and bribery.

Dr Mahathir told Malay Mail that it is ludicrous for someone to direct RM2 billion to be transferred into his account, but at the same time refusing to be informed of the transaction.

He was referring to the around US$700 million that was allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB into Najib’s account, as detailed by the US Department of Justice’s anti-kleptocracy probe.

“This cannot be. Because I have to sign to use the money. To use the money, I have to issue cheques.

“Najib always assumes that people are stupid,” Dr Mahathir added.

The prime minister has told Reuters that investigators are looking to bring “a number of charges” against Najib, based on abuse of power when he was prime minister.

He also was quoted saying that Malaysia is expected to make its first arrest in the 1MDB case within months and “hopefully” start a trial by the end of the year.