Saudi, UAE executives face probe over Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal

Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber says up to $7bn in funds flowed through 1MDB state-own fund in Malaysia.

1MDB - Malaysia
The 1MDB fund was set up in 2009 soon after Najib became prime minister [AP]

Two officials from an energy company in Saudi Arabia and two former officials from Abu Dhabi sovereign funds are among the six individuals under investigation by the Swiss government on suspicion of bribery and other offences related to the Malaysian state fund 1MDB.

Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber made the statement on Tuesday during his visit to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, where he also revealed that up to $7bn in funds flowed through 1MDB.

Lauber said investigators now need to determine how much of the money was misused.

Two Swiss banks, Falcon Private Bank and BSI SA, are also suspected of involvement, he said.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is not one of the “public officials under accusation”,  he said, but added that two former 1MDB officials are also subjects to the probe.

Lauber made his statement after meeting with his Malaysian counterpart, Tommy Thomas.

Earlier, Lauber’s office issued a written statement saying that the focus of the discussion between him and Thomas were “on the cooperation between the two prosecution authorities, in particular with regard to the 1MDB case”.

Alleged corruption at the fund helped bring on the unexpected defeat of Najib’s coalition in the May 9 polls.

The new government reopened investigations that were stifled while Najib was in office.

The government also ordered at least 408 bank accounts believed to be linked to the wealth fund frozen. 

‘Lavish lifestyle’

Earlier this month, Najib was arrested as part of theft and money laundering allegations, which he has vehemently denied. The former prime minister has since been released on bail.

The 1MDB fund was set up in 2009 soon after Najib became prime minister for the purpose of development investment to aid the country’s economy.

Allegations over the misappropriation of state funds at 1MDB emerged in 2015 as the public learned that $4bn had gone missing from the fund, and nearly $700m was allegedly transferred into Najib’s bank account.

The US Department of State filed a case in 2016, seeking to seize more than $1bn in assets linked to the fund.

Najib and his wife Rosmah’s lavish lifestyle has been under the microscope for years.

In a series of raids last month, Malaysian police said the total value of the bags of cash, jewellery, luxury purses, watches and other items seized from premises linked to former prime minister totalled up to $273m.

The government says it has discovered that taxpayers’ money has also been used to fund 1MDB’s debt obligations.

Mahathir, the prime minister, said that widespread corruption in the country is partly to be blamed for Malaysia’s debt, which is reported to be over $250bn, or about 80 percent of the gross domestic product.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies