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Deposits into Malaysia PM's accounts topped $1 billion, WSJ reports

Deposits into personal accounts of Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak exceeded $1 billion, with much of these funds being traced to a beleaguered state investment fund, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing global investigators familiar with the matter.

The WSJ published a report in July alleging that nearly $700 million had flowed from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund to Najib's personal bank account. Najib has repeatedly denied wrong-doing and, under pressure from the WSJ report, said at the time the funds were a private donation from a Middle Eastern country he declined to name.

In January, Malaysia's Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali told an unscheduled press conference that Saudi Arabia's royal family gave Najib a $681 million gift that was subsequently returned. The announcement was an effort to end months of speculation about the source of the huge personal donation that landed in the prime minister's personal bank account.

Apandi said in January that no criminal offense had been committed, in a move that appeared to mark the end of the matter, at least within the country.

But investigators in two other countries disagreed, the WSJ reported, without disclosing the names of those countries.

According to the newspaper's latest report, in addition to the previously identified $681 million that moved to Najib's account in 2013, funds also arrived in 2011 and 2012. Najib's office declined to comment on allegations that funds deposited in his accounts exceeded $1 billion.

Citing investigators in other countries, the WSJ reported that the money originated from 1MDB, Malaysia's debt-laden growth fund.

According to the investigators cited by the WSJ, the funds were transferred through several transactions in different countries with the assistance of two former officials of Abu Dhabi, before reaching the British Virgin Islands. The $681 million moved from there to Najib's account, according to the WSJ.

The scandal has already taken a political toll in Malaysia.

Last week, Malaysia's ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO) suspended Muhyiddin Yassin, a deputy party president, citing his failure to support Najib. Muhyiddin had previously been fired by Najib from his position as deputy prime minister.

On Monday, Malaysia's former premier Mahathir Mohamad said he would UMNO as it is being seen as "supporting corruption" under Najib's leadership.

Read the full WSJ report here

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