PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (pic) has alleged that “one of Mahathir's people” collected RM10mil in cash from him for the 13th general election back in 2013.
In an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini, the former premier described the person, who is a well-known swimmer, as one of the prime minister’s trusted aides.
According to Najib, the money was collected from his residence in Jalan Duta.
Though Najib revealed the name of the said aide, the online portal is withholding his identity pending his response.
The Pekan MP also spoke on other money matters, such as the RM116mil in cash that was seized during raids on Pavilion Residences condos linked to him, that he had earlier claimed were for "election expenses".
In response to being reminded that the amount was recovered after the election, Najib said: “You will not know how much it (an election campaign) costs exactly. And you will not know as well how much people will contribute to you.”
“It is impossible to have a clean zero balance so to speak. In any case, when you fight an election, you have to spend pre-election, during election and post-election.
"Don't forget I was president of the party of Umno and BN with 13 component parties.
“Running a major party with three million members like Umno is an expensive affair. And again, it is on record, when Mahathir resigned, he handed over RM1.4 billion to (his successor) Abdullah (Ahmad) Badawi in assets and cash.
"That is on record. So when you consider the context, it is a fraction of the amount,” he added.
However, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad did not hand over RM1.4bil in cash.
When alerted to this fact, Najib said: “Yeah, there was some cash, but during election time, you don't transact using the banking system because money is required immediately by the party.”
But why was the RM116mil found in 26 different currencies?
Najib said that part of the cash hoard belonged to him, because he had been “travelling for over 30 years”.
“But there were also contributions in foreign currency, some people rather contribute in foreign currency,” he added.
As to why the cash was at Pavilion Residences, he explained that it was a scramble following the election results.
“Because it all happened in a hurry, you see. We had to vacate within two hours the PMO (Prime Minister's Office) and Sri Perdana.
"Mind you, in PMO, there is a strong room (huge safe) built by my predecessor and also at Seri Perdana, there is a strong room, so that was designed.
“The intention is quite clear. They know when you fight an election, you also have to maintain cash. The opposition knows it as well. They also maintain cash.
“I know it is not something that is known in the public realm but it is not peculiar. It has happened in the past and until we change the rules and the law in terms of election funding, this will continue,” he added.
According to Najib, Dr Mahathir knew this well as it was the same practice in the past when he was Umno president.
On Wednesday, Federal Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Datuk Seri Amar Singh told a press conference that it took police over a month, from May 21 to June 25, to ascertain the value of the cash and items seized from six residences linked to Najib.
With cash and items seized amounting to between RM900mil and RM1.1bil, Amar has said that this was the biggest seizure in Malaysian history.