The Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed to swissinfo.ch that it has frozen assets amounting to several tens of millions of US dollars on Swiss bank accounts. This is amid investigations into Malaysia’s troubled state investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), on suspicion of corruption and money laundering.
Both Swiss and Malaysian authorities are conducting inquiries concerning the fund, whose advisory board is chaired by Prime Minister Najib Razak. The fund has been dogged by controversy over its $11 billion (CHF10.7 billion) debt and alleged financial mismanagement.
“On August 14, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office opened criminal proceedings against two executives of the Malaysian State owned fund 1MDB as well as against persons unknown for suspected corruption of foreign officials, suspected misconduct in public office and suspected money laundering,” Anna Wegelin, spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office, told swissinfo.ch in a written statement on Thursday.
“The proceedings are based on two notifications of suspicious transaction reports by the Swiss financial intelligence unit MROS.”
Wegelin added that at this early stage of the procedure, the prosecutor’s office was analysing and consolidating evidence.
“The prosecutor’s office is already in contact with the Malaysian authorities. International cooperation with foreign countries, in particular with Malaysia, will probably be necessary to establish the facts,” she said.
In Malaysia, 1MDB noted the report and told Reuters: “As far as 1MDB is aware, none of the company’s bank accounts have been frozen. 1MDB is in the process of developing a better understanding of the on-going investigations in Switzerland so the company can cooperate to its fullest extent.”
Swiss financial regulator FINMA has also said it was checking with some Swiss banks on whether they have done business with 1MDB. FINMA declined comment on the status of its inquiries.
Malaysia’s attorney general last month denied reports that a new task force would investigate 1MDB, saying the new body was just a “rebranding” of an existing team that focuses on crimes such as tax evasion and illegal fund flows.
swissinfo.ch and agencies