Malaysia has again rejected a Swiss request for legal assistance into an investigation into corruption allegations relating to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) sovereign fund.
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland said on Friday that officials in Kuala Lumpur had refused a Swiss call for help in collecting evidence into claims that up to $4.8 billion (CHF4.7 billion) has been diverted from companies linked to 1MDB, a fund set up by Najib Razak, Malaysia’s prime minister.
But the attorney general’s office said the decision would not stop the Swiss probe as it gathers information with other countries on the case.
“We respect Malaysia’s independent decision on this matter. However, the Malaysian authorities remain free to use the information provided in Switzerland’s requests for assistance in their own investigations,” Attorney General Michael Lauber told Reuters, confirming a report by the Financial Times.
“What is certain is that our own criminal proceedings, which are about maintaining the integrity of the Swiss financial system, will continue. We will ask other jurisdictions for support – for example Singapore, with which we have worked very well, other European jurisdictions and the US.”
The Financial Times cited the Malaysian attorney general’s chambers which claimed it was unable to agree to Switzerland’s requests because of an ongoing criminal investigation by Malaysian police in relation to matters concerning 1MDB.
Malaysia was committed to co-operating with international partners and there was “no issue of Malaysia blocking the Swiss criminal inquiry”, it added, according to the Financial Times. Switzerland had twice asked Malaysia for mutual legal assistance, Lauber told the paper.
Alleged Ponzi scheme
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland said in January that it suspected misappropriations from 1MDB of around $4 billion and alleged last month that a Ponzi scheme may have been set up to conceal an alleged $800 million fraud.
Swiss federal prosecutors have opened criminal proceedings against two Swiss private banks and four unidentified people over their links to 1MDB.
Founded by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who chaired its advisory board, 1MDB is the subject of money-laundering investigations in at least six countries including Switzerland, Singapore and the United States.
Najib has denied any wrongdoing and said Malaysia will cooperate with the international investigations.
swissinfo.ch with agencies