Switzerland is investigating six people on suspicion of money laundering, bribing foreign officials and other offences as part of an investigation into Malaysian state fund 1MDB, the Swiss attorney general’s office said on Tuesday.
Swiss authorities suspect funds raised for economic development projects by 1MDB and a former unit, SRC International, were stolen, the statement said.
“All or part of the financing obtained is alleged to have been used for other purposes, most particularly for the personal enrichment of the persons involved,” the statement from Attorney General Michael Lauber’s office said.
1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB as it is known, is at the centre of money laundering investigations in at least six countries, including Switzerland, Malaysia and the United States.
The U.S. Department of Justice has said an estimated $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB, a fund founded by former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur after meeting his Malaysian counterpart, Lauber said about $7 billion in funds originating from 1MDB and SRC had flowed through the global financial system from 2009 to 2015.
“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.
Lauber said Switzerland has frozen around 400 million Swiss francs ($404 million) as part of the probe. It will look to return some of the funds to Malaysia once investigations are completed.
Lauber’s visit to Malaysia came as investigations in the Southeast Asian country have picked up under the new administration led by former long-term leader Mahathir Mohamad.
Najib, prime minister until a shock May 9 election loss, was arrested and charged last week by Malaysian authorities with abuse of power and criminal breach of trust in connection with transactions linked to SRC International.
– By Rozanna Latiff and A. Ananthalakshmi, Reuters, 10 July 2018.
Link to Reuters.