Pacific News Minute: Switzerland Opens Investigation into Corruption in Malaysia

Feb 3, 2016

Credit Rosmarie Voegtli / Flickr

Last week, Malaysia's attorney general cleared the country's prime minister of all charges in a long running corruption investigation of a state development fund. Then, just a couple of days later, authorities in Switzerland said they have evidence of bribery, money laundering and other crimes involving the same Malaysian fund. We have more, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber sent a letter to his Malaysian counterpart about four billion dollars that may have been “misappropriated”. According to the letter, a Malaysian state owned fund called 1MDB participated in several suspect deals with state owned enterprises in the United Arab Emirates, and some of the allegedly misappropriated money ended up in the Swiss bank accounts of former Malaysian officials, and current and former officials of the UAE.

The Swiss statement cited possible violations of Swiss laws related to bribery of foreign officials, misconduct in public office, money laundering and criminal mismanagement of funds intended for economic and social development in Malaysia. Malaysia's Attorney General, Mohamed Apandi Ali, issued a statement promising full co-operation, and noted that the Swiss investigation is entirely separate from the corruption allegations his office dismissed last week.

That case involved nearly 700-million dollars that showed up in the Prime Minster's personal bank accounts, explained away by the Malaysian Attorney General as a personal gift from the Saudi Royal Family. Malaysian investigations into the scandal have all been quashed, but, along with the Swiss, authorities in the United States and Hong Kong are also reported to be probing 1MDB, and while Prime Minister Najib was not named as a target, he created the fund and serves as chairman of the board.