Ex-UAE official linked to 1MDB under probe

Swiss investigators suspect Mr Qubaisi, the former head of Ipic, of being part of an international conspiracy to embezzle money from 1MDB.
Swiss investigators suspect Mr Qubaisi, the former head of Ipic, of being part of an international conspiracy to embezzle money from 1MDB.PHOTO: REUTERS

Qubaisi being investigated in Switzerland for fraud, money laundering and corruption

GENEVA • Investigators in Switzerland have initiated a fraud probe against a former Abu Dhabi finance official over an alleged international conspiracy to embezzle money from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) wealth fund.

Investigators suspect Mr Khadem Al Qubaisi, the former head of the United Arab Emirates government's International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic), of fraud, money laundering and corruption, the Financial Times reported yesterday.

Ipic signed a debt swap deal with the Malaysian fund in May last year, and has claimed since that 1MDB has not repaid its dues.

The fraud probe comes close on the heels of a United States Justice Department lawsuit listing how billions were looted from the Malaysian fund. Investigators have estimated that about US$4 billion (S$5.4 billion) has vanished from 1MDB's coffers.

Apart from debt issues with Ipic, 1MDB faces a series of probes on large sums of money that appear to have been siphoned off illegally via a global network of shell companies. Mr Qubaisi is alleged to be among the directors of one such shell company, and is alleged to have received nearly US$473 million into his accounts in 2012, the US lawsuit claimed.

It further alleged that he used some of the funds to acquire US property worth about US$100 million, including a New York penthouse.

1MDB faces a series of probes on large sums of money that appear to have been siphoned off illegally via a global network of shell companies. Mr Qubaisi is alleged to be among the directors of one such shell company, and is alleged to have received nearly US$473 million into his accounts in 2012, a US lawsuit claims.

The US, Switzerland and Singapore were drawn into the investigations because of the movement of money through the international banking system.

Mr Qubaisi abruptly left Ipic in April last year and his whereabouts and status since have been the subject of speculation. He has been under investigation in Abu Dhabi for months, FT said, quoting sources.

His lawyer declined to comment.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-UAE official linked to 1MDB under probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe