Malaysia’s Attorney General Says Office Will Cooperate with Swiss in 1MDB Probe

BenarNews Staff
160130-MY-lauber-1000 Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber speaks during a press conference in Bern, Switzerland, June 17, 2015.

Malaysia’s attorney general said Saturday his office would cooperate with authorities in Switzerland after an investigation there revealed that U.S. $4 billion (16.57 billion ringgit) may have been embezzled from a Malaysian state investment fund.

“[M]y office intends to take all possible steps to follow up and collaborate with our Swiss counterparts, and we look forward to receiving the findings of their investigations and materials through the normal channels," Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali said in a statement.

“These materials will then be reviewed, alongside the findings of other relevant authorities and our own investigations, to determine the appropriate course of action,” he said.

He noted that his office and other Malaysian agencies were carrying on with various probes into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the state fund in question whose advisory board is chaired by Prime Minister Najib Razak.

“I and the relevant Malaysian authorities are keen to establish all the facts about 1MDB that have led to recent allegations against the company,” Apandi said.

“The Malaysian authorities … are committed to working with all relevant foreign law enforcement entities through the applicable international conventions and agreements. Similarly, 1MDB has from the outset cooperated with the enquiries,” he added.

For its part, 1MDB on Saturday issued a statement saying it was willing to cooperate in the Swiss investigation but had not yet been contacted, the Associated Press reported.

‘Entirely separate’

The attorney general’s statement came four days after his office cleared Najib of potential corruption charges over a deposit of nearly U.S. $681 million (2.08 billion ringgit) into the PM’s private bank accounts.

The scandal involving the money, which reportedly was transferred into his accounts via companies linked to 1MDB, led to calls for the prime minister’s resignation since news about the bank deposit emerged last July.

But earlier this week Apandi said “no criminal offense’ had been committed, and that the huge sum of money was a “personal donation” from the Saudi royal family.

“This issue has been an unnecessary distraction for the country. Now that the matter has been comprehensively put to rest, it is time for us to unite and move on,” Najib said Tuesday after the attorney general announced that his office was shutting down investigations into the prime minister.

In his statement Saturday, Apandi stressed that “contrary to recent media reports, the investigations into donations that were made to the Prime Minister are entirely separate to those into 1MDB.”

“The Attorney-General's Chambers exhaustively reviewed the report provided by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission [MACC] and, as has been announced, found no evidence of wrong-doing and hence have instructed for the cases to be closed,” Apandi said.

He also sent a warning to the press, saying that “any attempt by media organizations to conflate the two sets of investigations is irresponsible and prejudicial‎.”

A source within the commission, however, told BenarNews on Friday that the MACC had recommended that Apandi’s office pursue three charges against Najib of criminal misappropriation of property amounting to 42 million ringgit (U.S. $10.1 million).

The anonymous source said the recommended charges were connected to three tranches of money totaling 42 million ringgit that were wired into Najib’s private accounts from SRC International Subsidiaries, a state-owned firm linked to 1MDB.

Money for economic, social development

Late Friday, the office of Switzerland’s attorney general announced it was seeking help from Malaysian authorities in its investigation of deposits into Swiss banks of money linked to 1MDB.

Up to $4 billion in 1MDB funds may have been misappropriated between 2009 and 2013, the Swiss AG’s office said.

“The criminal investigation … has revealed serious indications that funds have been misappropriated from Malaysian state companies. The monies believed to have been misappropriated would have been earmarked for investment in economic and social development projects in Malaysia,” the Swiss attorney general said in a statement.

The office said it was still investigating the intended purpose of the embezzled funds that may amount to $4 billion.

“So far it has been ascertained that a small portion of the money was transferred to accounts held in Switzerland by various former Malaysian public officials and both former and current public officials from the United Arabic Emirates,” the office of Switzerland’s top prosecutor said.

The concerned Malaysian companies had yet to comment on the financial losses they are believed to have incurred, it went on to say.

“The object of the request for mutual assistance is therefore to advise the companies and the Malaysian government of the results of the Swiss criminal proceedings, with the aim of finding out whether losses on this scale have been sustained,” the Swiss AG’s office added.

The request for cooperation from Malaysia stems from a criminal case that Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber opened on Aug. 14, 2015 against two former 1MDB officials and persons unknown, his office said.

As part of the case, the Swiss are investigating suspected bribery of foreign public officials, money laundering and criminal mismanagement of money, Lauber’s office said.

Razlan Rashid contributed to this report.


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