Switzerland says Najib not a target in 1MDB probe

Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber visits Malaysian Attorney General Tommy Thomas in Putrajaya

The Swiss government is now investigating the utilisation of funds in 1MDB and its former subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd which were initially earmarked for economic development and investments.

"I can't say all were misappropriated, some were used (in a) Ponzi scheme. fraud - away from 1MDB's original goal, which is for (the) development of Malaysia - to bribe officials, to pay interests to keep the Ponzi scheme running".

He did not name the officials he was referring to.

Lauber was speaking to Channel NewsAsia after a meeting with his Malaysian counterpart Tommy Thomas.

Swiss regulators are no stranger to money laundering schemes, said Lauber, adding that they have had many years of experience in such cases.

This is because the Swiss authorities have been highly involved in the case, and recently, Lauber came forward and described the 1MDB scandal in an interesting manner.

Lauber said he has sought mutual legal assistance from the United States, Luxembourg, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.

After the meeting with Thomas, Lauber told reporters yesterday (10 July) that Swiss authorities are now investigating six people who are allegedly involved in the 1MDB scandal, while two Swiss banks, Falcon Private Bank and BSI SA, remain under suspicion.

The Swiss attorney general's office said on Tuesday in a statement said that former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was not one of the "public officials under accusation".

In another development, the request by Malaysian police to their counterparts in Macau to send a team there to arrest elusive businessman Low Taek Jho, wanted to assist in the 1MDB probe, is being verified.

Lauber clarified that the Swiss government indeed intends to return 1MDB assets to Malaysia, including "most of" the 400 million Swiss francs now frozen if it indeed belongs to the troubled state fund.

"We do what is mainly important to maintain the integrity of the Swiss financial system, and we [go] against people doing wrong things [against] Swiss nationals or with direct link to the Swiss system", Lauber said.

He said looking at the complexity of this high profile case and taking into account specific problems faced by the prosecution authorities, the case could go on for years.

"I recall that in my written reply to Switzerland, as the AG then, that since the Malaysian investigation was still ongoing, to accede to the Swiss request could prejudice the criminal matter in Malaysia", the daily quoted him saying.

Lauber, who is determined to protect his country's financial system against money laundering and other vices, also offered his advice to fellow prosecutors operating in challenging environments in the region.

According to a statement by the Swiss AG's office yesterday, the main emphasis of the discussions during the visit was on the need to affirm a mutual commitment to the rule of law and the resumption of MLA between the two jurisdictions.

Overall, Lauber is expecting the investigation and proceedings to spread out over the course of a few years. "All I have is what you see on me, that's it".

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