Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Six suspects held in Swiss bribery investigation | Money Talks

Six suspects held in Swiss bribery investigation | Money Talks

The Swiss Attorney-General's Office said in a statement that the six under investigation are two former officials from 1MDB, two former officials from Abu Dhabi sovereign funds and two officials from the Saudi energy group PetroSaudi.

Meanwhile, Switzerland has been conducting investigations on how billions of dollars that was meant to be used for economic development through 1MDB made its way into Swiss banks for the personal enrichment of the accused.

"I recall that in my written reply to Switzerland, as the AG then, that since the Malaysian investigation was still ongoing, to accede to the Swiss request could prejudice the criminal matter in Malaysia", he told FMT. We speak to TRT World Editor-at-large Craig Copetas.

The attorney-general's office in Switzerland began probing suspicious fund flows originating from 1MDB back in August 2015 after several transactions linked to a Middle Eastern wealth fund were flagged by Swiss authorities.

"These are the types of discussions we're having at the moment", he said.

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.

Apandi said he had, in fact, met Michael Lauber twice in Switzerland, over the issue.

"We think it was a pretext, it was kind of a Ponzi scheme". The visit could take place before the end of the month.

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"When you take the complexity of this high-profile case - we only started in 2015 - and [after taking into account] very hard, very specific problems faced by the jurisdiction, I would say it is not a very long investigation". The 1MDB scandal's alleged mastermind and now fugitive Low Taek Jho, or also known as Jho Low, is also not being pursued by the Swiss government, added the Swiss AG.

According to Lauber, six people are now under probe and two Swiss banks are suspected of involvement.

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

Swiss prosecutors earlier in May revealed they'd opened criminal proceedings into two former officials of PetroSaudi.

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 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".

The Swiss government is now investigating the utilisation of funds in 1MDB and its former subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd which were initially earmarked for economic development and investments. "Even in the worst situation, you need to uphold the rule of law".

"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".

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