Swiss AG upbeat on prospects for 1MDB probe

comments     Reuters     Published     Updated

Swiss attorney-general Michael Lauber expressed confidence yesterday that his money-laundering probe into scandal-hit Malaysian fund 1MDB would bear fruit despite Malaysian authorities' refusal to cooperate.

"It's not hopeless, in fact it's the opposite," Lauber told a news conference, saying the probe was making progress based on money-laundering reports, bank documents and work with Singapore and other countries.

"It would have been very desirable from our perspective if Malaysia had cooperated," he said.

But "we're still confident that we can successfully conclude the process in this area, in particular in the open cases against the two banks," he said, referring to Swiss private banks BSI and Falcon.

Malaysia again rebuffed Switzerland's request for legal assistance in probing 1MDB, Lauber's office had said in November.

1MDB, once a pet project of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, is under investigation in at least six countries over billions of dollars of suspected misappropriations.

Presenting his 2016 annual report, Lauber outlined OAG activities including its investigation of bribery linked to Brazil's oil firm Petrobras, investigations into world soccer body Fifa personnel, and tracking terrorist financing.

"This place (Switzerland) is not a safe harbour, not for terrorists, not for money launderers, not for international corruption," he said. "We don't tolerate things like 1MDB, we don't tolerate things like Petrobras, we don't tolerate things like the whole Fifa soccer complex."

In the Petrobras case, the OAG said it has confiscated US$1.1 billion in assets linked to the Brazilian oil group, up from US$800 million in 2015. More than 1,000 Swiss accounts have been examined, including from Brazil's former speaker of the lower house, Eduardo Cunha, who was jailed last month.

Investigations into Sepp Blatter, ex-president of Fifa, on corruption charges and into Franz Beckenbauer for his role in Germany's bid for the 2006 World Cup were continuing, it said.

Lauber said he was also in touch with Dutch authorities over an international investigation made public today into suspected tax evasion and money laundering via Credit Suisse accounts.

- Reuters

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