Swiss OAG to cooperate over 1MDB scandal


The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) is ready to cooperate with the new Malaysian government over the multibillion scandal involving 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

In an email reply to The Malaysian Reserve (TMR), a representative of the OAG said: “After the latest developments in Malaysia, the OAG is very much interested in renewing dialogue with the competent authorities in Malaysia.

“In order to establish the most efficient form of cooperation and to ensure good coordination of the criminal investigations, the OAG favours an exchange between partnering authorities at their earliest convenience,” said a spokesperson in the email reply.

TMR had emailed the OAG to inquire if Malaysia had initiated any contacts with the Swiss authority in relation to the 1MDB investigation.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was quoted as saying last week that the government would commence the investigation into the 1MDB scandal and would work with other countries, including Switzerland, to gain more information.

The 1MDB scandal is being investigated in no less than six countries. Malaysia’s previous government had outright denied any wrongdoings related to the government-owned fund, despite numerous investigations abroad.

Reuters reported on April 5, 2017, that Swiss Attorney General (AG) Michael Lauber said his money laundering investigation into Malaysian fund 1MDB was making progress, despite Malaysian authorities’ refusal to cooperate.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Dr Mahathir said he may stay on as Malaysia’s prime minister for “one or two years”, after earlier agreeing to step aside for jailed coalition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

In remarks yesterday, the 92-year-old Dr Mahathir said Anwar — a former enemy turned ally — may just join the Cabinet for a while after his expected release from prison today. Dr Mahathir also said he may soon bring a case against former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak, and take a shot at currency traders.

“In the initial stages, maybe lasting one or two years, I will have to be the prime minister and I will have to run the country,” Dr Mahathir said via a video conference to a Wall Street Journal event in Tokyo. “The reason why the public supported us is they have faith in the leadership of the Opposition to resolve some of the problems.”

Dr Mahathir said he wouldn’t cut a deal with Najib if any wrongdoing is found in a corruption probe into state fund 1MDB.

“We think that within a short while we will have a case against him,” Dr Mahathir said. “We will be able to charge him.”

Najib has repeatedly denied wrongdoing after 2015 revelations that around US$700 million (RM2.77 billion) — alleged to be 1MDB funds — appeared in his personal accounts before the prior election in 2013.

In 2016, the then-AG cleared Najib after saying the money in his account was a “personal donation” from a Saudi royal family member, and most of it was returned. Saudi Arabia said it was a “genuine donation”, without explaining the purpose of the funds.

Questions over how long he plans to stay on as prime minister risk undermining an agenda that includes scrapping the Goods and Services Tax, reviewing large infrastructure projects and cutting spending.

“I expect some resistance,” Dr Mahathir said of differences in his coalition government in forming the Cabinet. “So far, we have been able to resolve it. It is accepted that the final decision will be made by me.”

Dr Mahathir again pledged to reduce corruption and said he’d stop collecting taxes that are “oppressive”. He said there is currently no need for capital controls, and his government wouldn’t allow any “fiddling” with the value of currencies.

“When people start fiddling with the value of currencies, depressing currencies and impoverishing countries, that is not business,” Dr Mahathir said. “It is almost political. We will not allow that. If you do that again, we may consider having currency controls.”