Malaysian and S'pore officials meet as probe into 1MDB intensifies

Malaysian investigators in the 1MDB probe meeting their counterparts from Singapore at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission headquarters in Putrajaya yesterday.
Malaysian investigators in the 1MDB probe meeting their counterparts from Singapore at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission headquarters in Putrajaya yesterday. PHOTO: SPECIAL 1MDB TASK FORCE, MALAYSIA.

Malaysian officials probing the alleged theft of billions of dollars from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) yesterday met their Singapore counterparts in a meeting at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Putrajaya.

"The 1MDB special task force and Singaporean investigators have agreed to cooperate in re-covering the funds stolen from 1MDB. The goal of cooperation between both sides is to collect evidence and identify witnesses in Singapore as soon as possible," said a statement by the Malaysian task force.

"In addition, the team will go on the money trail to detect the cash and assets that still exist," it added.

Among those present at the meeting were nine senior officers from Singapore's Attorney-General's Office, Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the statement said. Malaysia was represented by officials from the Attorney-General's Chambers, the MACC, the police and the central bank.

A Singapore police spokesman said in response to queries: "Our Malaysian counterparts have requested our assistance in relation to their 1MDB-related investigations, and we agreed to a meeting in Kuala Lumpur."

The 1MDB special task force comprises the police Special Branch director Abdul Hamid Bador, former attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail, MACC chief Mohd Shukri Abdull and his former boss Abu Kassim Mohamed.

The 1MDB fund was founded by ousted prime minister Najib Razak soon after he took over the position in 2009. Datuk Seri Najib, who was also finance minister, headed 1MDB's board of advisers until May 2016.

The United States' Department of Justice labelled the alleged misappropriation as kleptocracy at its worst, alleging that US$4.5 billion (S$6 billion) was siphoned off from 1MDB.

The authorities in at least six places, including the US, Singapore and Switzerland, are investigating the case.

Mr Najib has denied any wrongdoing and was cleared in 2016 by the Malaysian authorities when the government was helmed by his Barisan Nasional coalition.

The three-week-old Pakatan Harapan government led by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has reopened the case and intensified investigations.

Singapore has taken swift action against financial institutions and individuals who have broken laws within its jurisdiction in connection with 1MDB-related fund flows, MAS and CAD had said on May 16, a week after PH took federal power.

In recent years, Singapore has shut down two Swiss private banks, fined other large banks, seized assets and banned at least eight people from the finance industry for their actions on 1MDB-related transactions, their statement had said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2018, with the headline 'Malaysian and S'pore officials meet as probe into 1MDB intensifies'. Print Edition | Subscribe