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Switzerland to probe bank account of Malaysian steel company

Malaysia's prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, has been criticised for approving decisions leading to Perwaja's losses

(Keystone Archive)

Malaysia's top anti-corruption official has said that the Swiss government plans to help investigate a Swiss bank account linked to a scandal-plagued Malaysian steel company.

The director-general of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Agency, Ahmad Zaki Husin, said that millions of dollars from the debt-laden Perwaja Steel company had been deposited into a Swiss account.

Ahmad Zaki added that investigations, which began in 1996, have been hampered by "uncooperative witnesses abroad, including the Swiss bank". The name of the Swiss bank, allegedly involved in the affair, has not been revealed.

The Malaysian agency said last month that it was investigating a $20 million (SFr33.4 million) payment Perwaja made for "consultancy fees". That payment was said to have been deposited in a Swiss bank account.

"The Swiss government's help is crucial in investigating allegations of abuse of Perwaja Steel funds," said Ahmad Zaki.

Perwaja, which is located in northeastern Terengganu state, was planned as a centrepiece of the prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad's, industrialisation drive in the early 1980s, but chalked up losses of $2.6 billion (SFr4.34 billion) by 1996.

Members of the opposition have accused Mahathir of approving decisions leading to the Perwaja group's losses. The government denies the accusation and in December said it was planning to sell Perwaja Steel.

swissinfo with agencies


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