Six suspects held in Swiss bribery investigation | Money Talks

Blanche Robertson
July 11, 2018

Former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali says he could not agree to the request from his Swiss counterpart as investigations were ongoing at the time. "We made direct contact with the AG of Malaysia in order to make a clear statement that we are still interested in coordinating with Malaysia".

"We're here to state our co-operation and to decide how concretely to plan our next steps, and this means setting up priorities and also exchanging the latest updates on views about the different legal systems".

He expressed confidence that mutual cooperation will be established soon - but emphasised that "now it is not yet there".

He said looking at the complexity of this high profile case and taking into account specific problems faced by the prosecution authorities, the case could go on for years.

About 400 million Swiss francs (US$403 million) was frozen by Swiss authorities in relation to 1MDB - mainly bankable assets retrieved from the two closed banks, said Lauber.

1MDB is at the centre of money laundering investigations in at least six countries, including Switzerland, Malaysia and the United States.

Meanwhile, the Swiss AG also confirmed that he had a short meeting with Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng yesterday.

Lauber clarified that the Swiss government indeed intends to return 1MDB assets to Malaysia, including "most of" the 400 million Swiss francs now frozen if it indeed belongs to the troubled state fund.

"I have to say that Switzerland had never in the past and also in this case ever enriched itself by keeping illicit or stolen assets", stressed Lauber.

"We think it was a pretext, it was kind of a Ponzi scheme", Mr Lauber said in an interview after the briefing.

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"Only then, as a second step we are, by legal obligation, able to restitute the money", he said.

After seven years, Lauber said he was still full of energy. "In [Swiss] legislation, we organise and manage the investigation". The visit could take place before the end of the month.

"I can't say all were misappropriated, some were used (in a) Ponzi scheme. fraud - away from 1MDB's original objective, which is for (the) development of Malaysia - to bribe officials, to pay interests to keep the Ponzi scheme running".

"It's a complex and huge worldwide case", he said.

Earlier in May, Swiss prosecutors revealed that they had opened criminal proceedings into two former officials of PetroSaudi.

After the meeting with Thomas, Lauber told reporters yesterday (10 July) that Swiss authorities are now investigating six people who are allegedly involved in the 1MDB scandal, while two Swiss banks, Falcon Private Bank and BSI SA, remain under suspicion.

He added that the Swiss AG's office is also not seeking to do so presently.

The report said Switzerland's Office of the Attorney General (OAG) had requested for mutual legal assistance from Malaysia on two occasions, but received no response in return. "If it's necessary to co-operate with 1MDB officials, then it's a different story and we'd like to see how it's possible". "Even in the worst situation, you need to uphold the rule of law".

Switzerland has been investigating how billions of dollars earmarked for economic development through 1MDB were diverted and made their way into Swiss banks for the personal enrichment of the accused.

"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.

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