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Berne probing possible Swiss links with 1MDB

Swiss financial regulator Finma is checking with some of the country's banks on whether they carried out business with Malaysia's troubled state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), a spokesperson said in Zurich yesterday.

1MDB, whose advisory board is chaired by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, was the subject of a probe by Bank Negara Malaysia which was completed earlier this month.

1MDB has been dogged by controversy over its US$11 billion debt and alleged financial mismanagement.

US financial daily The Wall Street Journal reported in July that investigators looking into 1MDB had traced nearly US$700 million that moved from an account at Swiss-based Falcon Private Bank in Singapore into personal accounts in Malaysia they believed belonged Najib.

Falcon has said previously it was in contact with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and would be fully transparent with the authorities.

"Finma is in contact with several banks about this matter," the spokesman said. "In the framework of our supervisory role, we are clarifying whether and to what extent Swiss banks are involved and how the terms of Swiss regulatory law were implemented."

The regulator would not comment on the details of its supervisory activity or on individual names it was looking at, the spokesman added.

Earlier this year, MAS also said it was in touch with Malaysian regulators after Malaysia's government said 1MDB had redeemed US$1.1 billion from the Cayman Islands and parked it in the Singapore unit of Swiss private bank BSI.

Representatives for Falcon and BSI did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Finma spokesperson's remarks.

- Reuters

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