July 3, 2018 / 12:48 PM / 5 months ago

Malaysia's ex-central bank head - Najib asked me to say he'd done nothing wrong

FILE PHOTO: Malaysia's Bank Negara Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz arrives at an event announcing revisions to the fiscal budget in Putrajaya, Malaysia, January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Olivia Harris

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s former central bank head on Tuesday denied she was aware of a large sum deposited in ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak’s account in 2013, adding that he later asked her to issue a statement saying “he had done nothing wrong”.

Zeti Akhtar Aziz was responding to a Najib interview published on Monday in which he said the central bank was aware of the 2.6 billion ringgit (487.9 million pounds) placed in his account before the 2013 general election and did nothing.

Zeti was head of Bank Negara at the time before her retirement in 2016.

Three years ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that Malaysian investigators had traced the deposit to a state fund 1MDB that Najib founded over a decade ago. Najib said the funds were a donation from a Saudi royal.

“I wish to categorically state that this claim is false,” Zeti said in the statement, referring to Najib saying the central bank was aware of the 2.6 billion ringgit placed in his account.

“In fact, on 3 July 2015, I was called to the Prime Minister’s office. He made a request for me to issue a statement that he had done nothing wrong in his account. I informed him that I cannot issue such a statement because I did not have knowledge of transactions that had occurred in his account.”

Malaysian anti-corruption agents arrested Najib on Tuesday following a probe into how money went missing from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state fund he founded almost a decade ago. Authorities said he would be charged in court on Wednesday.

Najib has denied wrongdoing.

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Writing by John Geddie; Editing by Nick Macfie

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