A-G Chambers helping Swiss probe into 1MDB

A construction worker talks on the phone in front of a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard.
A construction worker talks on the phone in front of a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard. PHOTO: REUTERS

Singapore's Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) is assisting its Swiss counterpart with investigations into troubled Malaysian state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

In response to press queries, the AGC confirmed yesterday that it received a request for mutual legal assistance from the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG), for information and documents on certain fund flows from 1MDB and entities related to it.

The AGC will "render all possible assistance... expeditiously", it said.

The AGC statement followed a statement issued by the Swiss authorities, which have extended a criminal probe to two former Emirati officials in charge of Abu Dhabi sovereign funds, on suspicion of embezzlement committed against Malaysia's 1MDB.

The Swiss authorities last August began investigations into 1MDB for suspected corruption of foreign public officials and money laundering.

The troubled state investor has been embroiled in a corruption scandal and is the subject of probes in at least seven countries. This segment of the Swiss investigations involves bonds issued by 1MDB subsidiaries to finance investments in electric power plants.

The 1MDB subsidiaries obtained a guarantee to repay these bonds from International Petroleum Investment Company, an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund.

In return, the Malaysian fund was to make collateral and other payments to a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi state fund. However, the Swiss authorities suspect that the amounts paid in connection with this guarantee were not returned to the Abu Dhabi sovereign fund. Instead, they were channelled to two public officials as well as a company related to the motion picture industry, the OAG said in its statement.

A former 1MDB entity, already indicted in Swiss proceedings, also allegedly benefited from the funds.

The Abu Dhabi sovereign fund has also said it did not receive the amounts paid in connection with the guarantee.

As part of these investigations, the OAG issued two requests for mutual legal assistance to Luxembourg and Singapore. "Given the international cooperation, the OAG is thus working to establish the facts," it said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2016, with the headline 'A-G Chambers helping Swiss probe into 1MDB'. Subscribe