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Malaysia PM Slams Corruption Accusations as 'Political Sabotage'


Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks to Reuters during the 10th World Islamic Economic Forum in Dubai Oct. 28, 2014.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks to Reuters during the 10th World Islamic Economic Forum in Dubai Oct. 28, 2014.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Friday dismissed as "political sabotage" reports that he received over $700 million from a government-owned investment fund.

The Wall Street Journal and the Malaysia-based Sarawak Report initially published the findings, based on documents from a government investigation into the 1MDB fund.

The reports said the two largest deposits, in the amounts of $620 million and $61 million, were transferred into Najib's account in the midst of a tightly contested 2013 election campaign.

The 1MDB fund, which is chaired by Najib, faces accusations of corruption and mismanagement, and is over $11 billion in debt. It is under investigation by several government agencies, including the auditor general and central bank.

1MDB released a statement Friday saying it "never provided any funds to the prime minister," and calling the reports "highly irresponsible and an attempt to undermine the company."

In a Facebook statement, Najib also slammed what he called "concerted efforts by 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," said the prime minister's office.

However, while Najib's statement questioned the validity of the leaked documents outlining the alleged fund transfer, it did not directly deny that he received the funds.

Several leading opposition lawmakers called for the prime minister to take a leave of absence over the accusations, saying a statement of denial is not enough.

"We call upon the prime minister to step aside, take leave, to allow an independent investigation," Tian Chua, vice president of the opposition People's Justice Party, told VOA.

"The prime minister has to be out of the way to allow whistleblowers and investigators to act independently, otherwise there will be suspicions of intimidation and foul play," he added.

In recent years, a rising number of opposition figures and government critics, including Tian Chua himself, have been arrested on a wide array of anti-state charges, including sedition.

In that atmosphere, Tian Chua said he is skeptical a transparent investigation can take place.

"I'm concerned that whistleblowers and people who have information won't dare to come forward because of the immense power that the government holds in its hands," he said.

The de facto head of the People's Justice Party is former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who is serving a five-year prison sentence after being convicted of sodomy. Critics say the charges are fabricated and meant to ruin the political career of Anwar, Najib's main rival.

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