1MDB used as Ponzi scheme to bribe officials, says Swiss A-G

11 July, 2018, 16:35 | Author: Myra Gill
  • The six under investigation are two former officials from 1MDB two former officials from Abu Dhabi sovereign funds and two officials of Saudi energy group Petrosaudi. — Reuters pic

On the personalities involved, Lauber clarified that former prime minister and 1MDB chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak is still not in the scope of the investigation by the Swiss government. Since then investigators from several countries have stepped up their efforts to close in on one of the world's biggest financial scandals.

The banking haven is looking into claims its financial system was used to launder money siphoned off from the multi-billion dollar fund, which investigators say was raided to buy everything from United States real estate to artworks. We speak to TRT World Editor-at-large Craig Copetas.

Mr Lauber's office said he and Mr Thomas "discussed the coordination of the investigation into the 1MDB case" and that its probe was focusing on the use of financing obtained by 1MDB and a former unit called SRC International Sdn.

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.

"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.

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. "We are not talking about weeks or months, we are talking about years. we started about three years ago, we are quite early - we always calculate between five and seven years for high-profile cases - we are now in the middle".

"We think it was a pretext, it was kind of a Ponzi scheme".

"It is not correct to say that I had refused to cooperate with the Swiss AG, whom I met twice in Switzerland, over this issue", Apandi was quoted saying by the daily.

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

His office has initiated proceedings against six individuals - comprising two former 1MDB officials, two officials in PetroSaudi and two individuals from the UAE in charge of Abu Dhabi sovereign funds.

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

On the challenges facing his counterpart in Malaysia, the Swiss Attorney-General said he was positive that the attorney-general's chambers in Malaysia was off to a good start. "If necessary and if further developments in our investigation show that it is necessary to also cooperate with actual 1MDB officials, that is a different story", he said. "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 was diverted and made its way into Swiss banks.

"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.

"It was used for bribery of foreign officials, it was used for paying interest, it was used for motivating new officials to run against the legal requirements or it was just simply to reward them", Lauber said in an interview without identifying any of the people he was referring to in his comments.


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