Saudi Arabia's late King Abdullah personally authorized a $681 million payment to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, the BBC has reported.
Malaysia's attorney general revealed on Tuesday that the early-2013 payment, the subject of months of speculation, had come from the Saudi royal family and involved no corruption or improper conduct. Malaysia's prime minister had previously said that the cash was a private donation from a Middle Eastern donor that he declined to name.
Tuesday's revelation was the latest twist in a long-running political scandal around Najib and the country's ailing sovereign wealth fund Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the advisory board of which the prime minister leads.
On Wednesday the BBC reported that the cash - $620 million of which was returned to the donor a few months later - was paid by Saudi Arabia to Najib to help the prime minister win 2013 elections at a time when the Saudis were worried about the global influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.
At the time, the BBC said, Malaysia's opposition alliance included the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, which was loosely inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood.