The OAG reiterates that Switzerland’s law requires it to return ill-gotten money to the rightful owners
by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK/ pic by BLOOMBERG
FUGITIVE businessman Low Taek Jho’s settlement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) does not absolve the alleged mastermind of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) financial scandal of Switzerland’s criminal prosecution.
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) said the settlement by the DoJ will not influence the Swiss prosecution of criminal proceedings.
“The OAG welcomes the positive development of the US investigation in the context of the 1MDB case.
“The settlement reached by the DoJ against assets acquired by Low and his family has no impact on the assets frozen within the framework of the criminal proceedings of the OAG,” it said in an email reply to The Malaysian Reserve.
The OAG was asked whether the agreement reached by Low, or better known as Jho Low (picture), not to fight the seizure of his and his family’s assets by the DoJ would have any bearing on the Swiss investigation into 1MDB.
The OAG said the possible assets frozen within the framework of mutual legal assistance should be directed to the Swiss Federal Office of Justice. The OAG has frozen assets worth around US$400 million (RM1.66 billion) or approximately 400 million Swiss francs, which are linked to the billions stolen from 1MDB.
Switzerland is one of the countries actively investigating the financial scandal involving the state fund created by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak.
A witness in Najib’s SRC International Sdn Bhd trial revealed that the company’s board of directors went to Switzerland to ensure the money at a Swiss bank was safe and secure.
It is widely believed that the money frozen by Swiss authorities is part of the RM4 billion loans obtained in 2011 and 2012 from the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP).
The OAG reiterated that the country’s law requires it to return ill-gotten money to the rightful owners.
“According to Swiss law and in accordance with Swiss practice, once the offence has been proven, the ill-gotten money should be returned to the victim.
“In principle, the restitution of the assets to the victim can only take place once the criminal proceedings, in which these funds are frozen, have been completed,” it said.
It is not known when the proceedings would be instituted or completed. The OAG added that it is not the only one influencing the proceedings, therefore, no prognosis can be made with regard to the duration or to the course of these proceedings.
The mutual legal assistance has been established given the case’s international nature, involving law enforcement authorities in Malaysia, the US, Luxembourg and Singapore, while aid from a number of foreign states have been requested by Switzerland.
Currently, six persons are under investigation, alongside two banks, suspected of involvement in the use of financing obtained by the Malaysian sovereign funds, namely 1MDB and SRC International.
The OAG’s investigation covers investments by both funds that make up nearly US$10 billion, whereby over US$7 billion was channelled via Switzerland. US$6 billion out of the amount channelled via Switzerland appeared to have been used in a way that violated the land’s criminal law.
The misused funds were earmarked for economic development projects such as the Petrosaudi International Ltd, Tanjong Energy Holdings Sdn Bhd, Genting Sanyen Sdn Bhd and Abu Dhabi Malaysia Investment Co projects, as well as natural resources investment by SRC International.
However, the financing obtained was allegedly used for other purposes, including personal enrichment of involved persons.