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C4: M'sia never claimed 1MDB-linked funds Switzerland seized

Published:  |  Modified:

The Malaysian government has never attempted to claim CHF104 million (Swiss francs, equivalent to RM400 million) in illicit profits confiscated by Swiss bank regulator Finma from three banks over alleged involvement in laundering assets linked to 1MDB.

According to Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) director Cynthia Gabriel, the matter was confirmed by Swiss lawmakers at a meeting with civil society organisations in Geneva yesterday.

"It is a shame that the Malaysian government has deliberately refused to acknowledge the illicit profits and financial flows related to the 1MDB, leaving the Swiss Parliament to debate and vote on the 1MDB scandal.

"An open debate in the Malaysian Parliament has never been allowed to take place," Cynthia said in a joint statement with other Malaysian NGOs present during the meeting hosted by Swiss MP Carlo Sommaruga, who had tabled a motion seeking restitution of the 1MDB-linked funds seized by the Swiss government to Malaysia.

In an email to Malaysiakini, Sommaruga's office clarified that the money would never go directly to the Malaysian government but instead be channelled to those in need, through NGOs with high integrity.

Sommaruga's motion will be discussed and voted on tomorrow, March 15, in the National Council, one of the two chambers of Swiss Parliament.

"We appreciate initiatives by MP Carlo Sommaruga (standing centre, next to Cynthia) and hope that other Swiss lawmakers would support the motion for the accountable return of assets to the Malaysian public," Cynthia added.

Meanwhile, Swiss Bruno Manser Fund director Lukas Straumann urged the Swiss government to take a leading role in recovering proceeds from corruption.

“During the few last years, several billions of dollars have been confiscated worldwide in corruption proceedings.

"Switzerland has a great international responsibility in this issue and should take the lead to enable a fair and transparent recovery of corruption proceeds to the countries of origin," said Straumann, who was also present during the meeting.

Other Malaysian NGO leaders present at the meeting were Bersih acting chairperson Shahrul Aman Mohd Saari and Global Bersih director Bala Chelliah.

The funds seized from the banks have since flowed into the Swiss Federal Treasury because there were no claimants, Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer had earlier said.

The funds in question were seized by the Swiss government from three banks – BSI Bank, Coutts & Co and Falcon Bank – after they were implicated in laundering 1MDB-linked monies.

The banks are appealing the seizures in the Federal Administration Court.

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