1MDB probe

KL turns down Swiss request for assistance

Signage for 1Malaysia Development Bhd. (1MDB) is displayed at the site of the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) project in Kuala Lumpur.
Signage for 1Malaysia Development Bhd. (1MDB) is displayed at the site of the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) project in Kuala Lumpur. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Swiss A-G says it will work on case with other countries, offers info to help Malaysian police

ZURICH • Malaysia has again rebuffed Switzerland's request for legal assistance in probing suspected corruption linked to scandal-hit state fund 1MDB, the Swiss Attorney-General's office said yesterday.

But it said Kuala Lumpur's decision would not hinder the Swiss probe as it works with other countries on the case.

"We respect Malaysia's independent decision on this matter. However, the Malaysian authorities remain free to use the information provided in Switzerland's requests for assistance in their own investigations," Attorney-General Michael Lauber said, confirming a report by the Financial Times (FT).

"What is certain is that our own criminal proceedings, which are about maintaining the integrity of the Swiss financial system, will continue. We will ask other jurisdictions for support - for example Singapore, with which we have worked very well, other European jurisdictions and the US."

The FT cited the Malaysian Attorney-General's chambers as saying it was unable to accede to Switzerland's requests because of a continuing criminal investigation by Malaysian police in relation to matters concerning 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Malaysia was committed to cooperating with international partners and there was "no issue of Malaysia blocking the Swiss criminal inquiry", it added, according to the FT.

OTHER JURISDICTIONS

What is certain is that our own criminal proceedings, which are about maintaining the integrity of the Swiss financial system, will continue. We will ask other jurisdictions for support - for example Singapore, with which we have worked very well, other European jurisdictions and the US.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL MICHAEL LAUBER

A source familiar with the discussions told Reuters that while Swiss officials publicly allude to expectations that Malaysia will cooperate, privately the Malaysians have demanded that the Swiss drop their investigation.

Malaysian officials were not immediately available for comment.

Mr Lauber's office said in January it suspected that misappropriations from 1MDB totalled roughly US$4 billion (S$5.6 billion) and alleged last month that a Ponzi scheme may have been set up to conceal an alleged US$800 million fraud.

Swiss federal prosecutors have opened criminal proceedings against two Swiss private banks and four unidentified people over their links to 1MDB.

Founded by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who chaired its advisory board, 1MDB is the subject of money-laundering investigations in at least six countries, including Switzerland, Singapore and the United States.

Datuk Seri Najib has denied any wrongdoing and said Malaysia will cooperate with the international investigations.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2016, with the headline 'KL turns down Swiss request for assistance '. Print Edition | Subscribe