Switzerland makes progress in 1MDB case despite Malaysia's refusal to cooperate

Switzerland makes progress in 1MDB case despite Malaysia's refusal to cooperate
PHOTO: Reuters

BERN - Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber said on Wednesday that his money laundering investigation into Malaysian fund 1MDB was making progress despite Malaysian authorities' refusal to co-operate.

Combing through money laundering reports and bank documents with help from Singapore, Luxembourg and the United States was bearing fruit for his office, the OAG, he said.

"It's not hopeless, in fact it's the opposite," Lauber said.

"We're still confident we can successfully conclude the process ... in particular the open cases against the two banks," he said at a news conference, referring to Swiss private banks BSI and Falcon which have already had to pay out in the case.

1MDB, once a pet project of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, is under investigation in at least six countries over billions of dollars of suspected misappropriations.

Presenting his 2016 annual report, Lauber outlined OAG activities including its investigation of bribery linked to Brazil's oil firm Petrobras, investigations into world football body FIFA personnel, and tracking terrorist financing.

"This place (Switzerland) is not a safe harbour, not for terrorists, not for money launderers, not for international corruption," he said. "We don't tolerate things like 1MDB, we don't tolerate things like Petrobras, we don't tolerate things like the whole FIFA football complex."

In the Petrobras case, the OAG said it has confiscated $1.1 billion in assets linked to the Brazilian oil group, up from $800 million in 2015. More than 1,000 Swiss accounts have been examined, including from Brazil's former speaker of the lower house, Eduardo Cunha, who was jailed last month.

Investigations into Sepp Blatter, ex-president of FIFA, on corruption charges and into Franz Beckenbauer for his role in Germany's bid for the 2006 World Cup were continuing, it said.

Lauber said he was also in touch with Dutch authorities over an international investigation made public on Thursday into suspected tax evasion and money laundering via Credit Suisse accounts.

 

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