Geneva • A former top executive with the Malaysian investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and a senior lawyer at the fund who worked with Goldman Sachs Group Inc are among six people targeted in a Swiss criminal probe into the multi-billion-dollar scandal, according to people familiar with the matter.
The executive is suspected of authorising an illicit US$700 million (RM2.84 billion) transfer, according to the people, who declined to be identified because the investigation is confidential. The pair is being investigated for bribery, misconduct in public office, money laundering and criminal mismanagement.
T and L, as they can only be identified under Swiss law, were referred to as “two former officials at 1MDB” in a July 10 press release issued following Swiss Attorney General (AG)
Michael Lauber’s visit with his Malaysian counterpart in Putrajaya. Swiss prosecutors don’t typically name any suspects unless they’ve been formally indicted ahead of a trial.
After years of stalled investigations into how up to US$4.5 billion was diverted from a fund created to develop the Malaysian economy and used to buy a yacht, paintings and luxury properties, the probes are now making progress.
Prosecutors in the US, Switzerland and Singapore have been encouraged by the surprise defeat of ex-Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak in May. His successor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad promptly named a new AG, Tommy Thomas, who charged Najib on July 4 with corruption for his role in the affair. Najib denies the allegations.
Neither L and T were listed in public phone records and attempts to locate any representatives for them were unsuccessful.
Dr Mahathir plans to recoup as much as US$4.5 billion that was potentially lost through 1MDB including some of what he said was in the fees paid to Goldman. Dr Mahathir said in an interview with Bloomberg Television that he would pursue a case against the New York-based bank “if there’s a case”, adding that the AG would make a decision on whether to proceed.
Goldman has been under scrutiny for the role it played in raising US$6.5 billion in debt for 1MDB with the help of L, who was described as a “main point of contact” with the bank in a US criminal complaint in 2016.
Goldman, which has not been accused of any wrongdoing, said it was only raising funds for 1MDB, so it could make investments to benefit Malaysia and couldn’t have foreseen where the money went after that. — Bloomberg