Swiss say $4 billion misappropriated from Malaysian state firms

Mon Feb 1, 2016 6:31pm EST
 
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By Mark Hosenball and A. Ananthalakshmi

WASHINGTON/KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Switzerland's chief prosecutor said on Friday a criminal investigation into state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) had revealed that about $4 billion appeared to have been misappropriated from Malaysian state companies.

The office of Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber said it had formally asked Malaysia to help with its probes into possible violations of Swiss laws related to bribery of foreign officials, misconduct in public office, money laundering and criminal mismanagement at the fund.

It said it had identified four cases of alleged criminal conduct.

1MDB, whose advisory board is chaired by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, has been probed by Malaysian authorities following accusations of financial mismanagement and graft.

Earlier this week, Malaysia's attorney general cleared Najib himself of any criminal offences or corruption, declaring that $681 million deposited into his personal bank account was a gift from Saudi Arabia's royal family.

The Malaysian attorney general's office said in a statement on Saturday that it would take all possible steps to follow up and collaborate with its Swiss counterpart, but noted that the investigations into donations made to Najib were entirely separate from those into 1MDB.

Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing, saying the funds were a political donation and he did not take any money for personal gain.

In its statement seeking Malaysia's assistance, the Swiss attorney general's office said: "The monies believed to have been misappropriated would have been earmarked for investment in economic and social development projects in Malaysia."   Continued...

 
Traffic passes a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 6, 2015. REUTERS/Olivia Harris