The attorney-general’s office in Switzerland is set to hand over “significant evidence” to prove that there were illegal financial transactions linked to Malaysian companies and counterparts, and said it hopes that the country’s authorities would cooperate. The announcement from the Swiss attorney general comes after authorities investigating the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal found that about $4 billion from Malaysian state companies were misappropriated.
“The OAG (Swiss Office of Attorney General) is hopeful that our colleagues in Malaysia will examine the evidence we have gathered and provide us with further assistance, as the two attorneys-general agreed last September,” a mail from the office told the Malaysia Insider via email.
While Malaysia’s Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali said he would cooperate with the Swiss officials, he reiterated that investigations into cases linked to 1MDB were not the same as the donation to Najib’s account. The statement from the OAG Michael Lauber was also criticized by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who said that such findings and the request for Malaysia’s cooperation should not have been made public.
“By making a public statement, in my opinion, it is not good because it not only strains ties between the two countries, but also creates bias in media reports,” Zahid said, according to Malaysia Insider.
Lauber said Saturday, according to reports, that a portion of the $4 billion was transferred to Swiss bank accounts held by Malaysian ex-government officials and current public officials from the United Arab Emirates. The money was discovered while investigating two former 1MDB officials and others, suspecting them of bribery involving foreign government officials. The allegation came as an escalation of investigations around 1MDB, which was formed by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009.
Lauber’s office had said Saturday that it was looking into four cases of potential criminal conduct. The OAG also said that the cases portrayed a sophisticated effort made to take the money “each involving a systematic course of action carried out by means of complex financial structures,” the Wall Street Journal reported. The report also added that Swiss authorities have been investigating unidentified people linked to 1MDB over bribing government officials, misconduct in government office and money laundering.
The latest revelation also follows an announcement from Malaysia’s attorney general last week that Najib was cleared of wrongdoing and said that the $681 million in his personal account, which led to allegations of corruption against him, were a personal donation from the Saudi royal family. Lauber said Friday that he was concerned over the declaration as Malaysia’s decision to stop the probe into the transaction could create problems for their investigations.
“We are very concerned,” Lauber said Friday, according to the Journal, adding: “We have found evidence of suspicious money transfers linked to 1MDB going through Swiss financial institutions, and we believe that it is very important that it is shared with the Malaysian authorities.”
Najib and 1MDB have denied any wrongdoing, and the fund says that it is cooperating with Malaysian authorities.