KUALA LUMPUR: A Swiss probe into bribery and fraud centred on Malaysian state fund 1MDB is investigating six people, but former prime minister Najib Razak is not one of them, the country’s attorney general said Tuesday.
The banking haven is looking into claims its financial system was used to launder money siphoned off from the multi-billion dollar fund, which investigators say was raided to buy everything from US real estate to artworks.
A total of $4.5 billion was misappropriated by high-level officials of 1MDB and their associates, according to civil lawsuits filed by the US Department of Justice.
Najib, who set up 1MDB in 2009 and served as chairman of its advisory board, was charged in Malaysia last week with corruption linked to the scandal.
He denied all four charges and is currently on bail.
Shortly after he was booted from office in May, raids on properties linked to Najib and his family netted $273 million dollars’ worth of cash, jewellery and luxury handbags.
“At this stage of the proceedings, six persons are under investigation and two banks are suspected of involvement,” the Swiss Attorney General’s Office said Tuesday.
“Mr. Najib Razak, the former prime minister, is not one of the public officials under accusation,” the statement added.
The statement came following a meeting between visiting Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber and his Malaysian counterpart Tommy Thomas.
Lauber’s office said he and Thomas “discussed the coordination of the investigation into the 1MDB case” and that its probe was focusing on the use of financing obtained by 1MDB and a former unit called SRC.
“All or part of the financing obtained is alleged to have been used for other purposes, most particularly for the personal enrichment of the persons involved,” the statement said.
Speaking to reporters separately, Lauber said $7.0 billion flowed through the global financial system from 1MDB and SRC.
Last year, Lauber lamented that Malaysian authorities during Najib’s rule had refused to cooperate with his years-old inquiry.
Malaysia’s newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has promised to investigate the 1MDB scandal and take legal action against those involved in the fraud.—AFP