KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Friday denied news reports that nearly $700 million were funneled from an indebted state investment fund into his personal accounts.
The investment fund 1MDB, which has accumulated 42 billion ringgit ($11.2 billion) in debt, is currently under investigation for alleged impropriety. The Wall Street Journal and the Sarawak Report online news portal reported that investigators have traced some $700 million wired into Najib's bank accounts.
The reports said five deposits were made into Najib's account and the two largest transactions, worth $620 million and $61 million, were done in March 2013 ahead of general elections.
A statement from Najib's office criticized "concerted efforts by certain individuals to undermine confidence in our economy, tarnish the government and remove a democratically elected prime minister."
"These latest claims, attributed to unnamed investigators as a basis to attack the prime minister, are a continuation of this political sabotage," the statement said.
In a separate statement, 1MDB said that the company "has never provided any funds to the prime minister."
Najib has come under increasing pressure over his leadership. Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has led calls for him to step down, warning that there was "something rotten" in the country and that the ruling coalition may lose the next elections with Najib at the helm.
Mahathir also echoed critics' concerns about 1MDB's massive debt, an alleged lack of transparency and why billions of ringgits were kept in the Cayman Islands. He stepped down in 2003, after 22 years in power , but remains an influential political figure.
1MDB said the news reports cited documents "whose existence and authenticity have not been publicly verified," and slammed them as "highly irresponsible and a deliberate attempt to undermine the company."
1MDB's huge debt has raised fears a possible bailout could leave the government bankrupt.
The fund urged the public to wait for the outcome of the investigations by government agencies, including the auditor general and the central bank.