Switzerland investigating 6 for suspected bribery of foreign officials in 1MDB probe

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Switzerland is investigating six people on suspicion of bribing foreign officials and other offences, as part of a money laundering investigation into Malaysian state fund 1MDB, the Swiss attorney-general's office said on Tuesday (July 10).

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak is not one of the "public officials under accusation", the statement said.

The six people under investigation by Swiss authorities are two former officials from 1MDB, two former officials from Abu Dhabi sovereign funds and two officials of Saudi energy group Petrosaudi, the Swiss Attorney General’s statement said.  

Two Swiss banks – Falcon Private Bank and BSI SA – are also suspected to be involved, Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber told reporters Tuesday in Putrajaya following a meeting with his Malaysian counterpart, Tommy Thomas. 

Lauber said Switzerland was investigating funds linked to both 1MDB and SRC.  

“The whole funding of 1MDB and SRC International is about US$7 billion,” Lauber said, referring to the funds his office says originated from 
1MDB and SRC and flowed through the global financial system from 2009 to 2015. 

“This is just what we saw in our investigations in Switzerland, so a part (of it) most likely went through Switzerland and other parts went somewhere else,” he said.

Switzerland has been investigating how billions of dollars earmarked for economic development through 1Malaysia Development Bhd or 1MDB, was diverted and made its way into Swiss banks for the personal enrichment of the accused.

SWISS INVESTIGATION 

Lauber, working with Singaporean and US authorities, had been publicly critical in the past of Malaysian authorities for their lack of cooperation.

After Najib lost his bid for re-election in mid-May to rival and former premier Mahathir Mohamad, the new government said it would reopen a graft probe. 

“After the latest developments in Malaysia,” the Swiss A-G’s office “was very much interested in renewing dialogue with the competent authorities in Malaysia,” it said in a statement Tuesday.

The US Department of Justice has said an estimated $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB, a fund founded by Najib. 

Najib, prime minister until a shock May 9 election loss, was arrested and charged last week by Malaysian authorities for abuse of power and criminal breach of trust in connection with transactions linked to SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB. 

Najib pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was released on bail. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing in relation to 1MDB.    

Separately, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier that former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner was in talks with US prosecutors to potentially plead guilty to criminal charges stemming from an alleged scheme to steal billions of dollars from 1MDB.