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Transparency chief says Malaysia PM donation smells of ‘grand corruption’


Transparency International President Jose Ugaz. Photo: Ernesto Arias/EPA

Transparency International President Jose Ugaz. Photo: Ernesto Arias/EPA

Despite Malaysian UMNO leaders dismissing the RM2.6 billion in Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's bank accounts as not a big deal, Transparency International chairman Jose Ugaz said it has all the elements of “grand corruption”.

Speaking to The Malaysian Insider, in a story published September 4, the globally renowned anti-graft fighter said grand corruption has three characteristics: it is committed by those in very high positions of power, involves huge amount of money, and has an impact on human rights.

Speaking at the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Kuala Lumpur on September 3, Mr Ugaz said the RM2.6 billion that Prime Minister Najib Razak received in his personal bank accounts was an example of grand corruption.

The funds transfer, Ugaz said, was comparable to illicit funds that flowed to major banks such as the United Kingdom’s HSBC and France’s BNP Paribas. Activists have in the past claimed that HSBC had funnelled money from illegal logging in Sarawak, while a US court had fined BNP Paribas US$9 billion for moving billions of dollars to countries labelled as sponsors of terrorism.

Last month, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) confirmed that Najib had received the RM2.6 billion from an unnamed Middle Eastern source for an unspecified purpose. “If that money is meant to help the poor and it did not go to them, then that impacts their human rights,” Ugaz told The Malaysian Insider on the sidelines of the conference.

“He has not explained, for what and where the money came from and what he was to do when he received it. He must also prove that the money is not illicit or that it comes from an illicit source. Political parties should not receive money that comes from illegal origins,” Ugaz said. 

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