S'pore ready to extend help on 1MDB probe

File photo showing a man walking past a 1MDB billboard in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
File photo showing a man walking past a 1MDB billboard in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Singapore authorities are fully prepared to extend further assistance to their Malaysian counterparts on transactions related to scandal-plagued state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the Commercial Affairs Department and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a statement yesterday.

"The Singapore authorities have cooperated extensively with their Malaysian counterparts on their past requests for information in relation to 1MDB-related transactions, and are fully prepared to extend further assistance. Singapore has also taken swift action against financial institutions and individuals who have broken laws within our jurisdiction in connection with 1MDB-related fund flows," they said in the joint statement, issued in response to media queries.

At a press conference later yesterday, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia would contact the authorities in Switzerland, Singapore, the United States and elsewhere to recover 1MDB funds that were misappropriated under former prime minister Najib Razak's administration.

"No one confessed that it was Malaysian money, so no claim was made," Tun Dr Mahathir told reporters. "The amount is quite big and will help us settle some debts," he added.

A Malaysian government audit of 1MDB which was declassified on Tuesday found that senior 1MDB officials withheld information from its board and took some decisions without the board's approval.

Dr Mahathir had also said on Tuesday that he expects prosecutors will soon have a strong case to charge Mr Najib over graft claims at 1MDB.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia would contact the authorities in Switzerland, Singapore, the United States and elsewhere to recover 1MDB funds that were misappropriated under former prime minister Najib Razak's administration.

The US Department of Justice has filed civil lawsuits alleging that over US$4.5 billion (S$6 billion) was misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials and their associates. About US$700 million had also gone into Mr Najib's personal bank account.

The lawsuits seek to seize about US$1.7 billion in assets, including a luxury yacht and paintings, that were bought with 1MDB funds.

MAS has fined eight banks a total of $29.1 million, while Swiss private banks BSI and Falcon were shut down in Singapore and several persons jailed after an extensive two-year probe into 1MDB fund flows.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2018, with the headline 'S'pore ready to extend help on 1MDB probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe