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Swiss prosecutor asks Malaysia to help investigate 1MDB fund irregularities

Switzerland's prosecutor has formally asked Malaysia for help with an investigation into the possible misappropriation of $4 billion by state-owned fund 1MDB. Malaysia's PM has been cleared of corruption in Kuala Lumpur.

Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber's office has formally asked Malaysia for help with an investigation into possible violations by the state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). It had already "revealed serious indications that funds have been misappropriated from Malaysian state companies," Lauber's office said in a statement.

The charges relate to alleged bribery by foreign officials, misconduct in public office, money laundering and criminal management totaling $4 billion (3.6 billion euros).

"So far, four cases involving allegations of criminal conduct covering the period from 2009 to 2013 have come to light," the statement said, adding that each case involved "a systematic course of action carried out by means of complex financial structures."

Malaysia PM's Saudi gift

Malaysia's attorney general cleared 1MDB's advisory board chairman, Prime Minister Najib Razak (photo), of any criminal offence or corruption last week, saying $681 million deposited into his personal bank account was a gift from Saudi Arabia's royal family.

Some of the funds had been transferred to Swiss accounts held by former Malaysian public officials and current and former public officials from the United Arab Emirates, according to the prosecutor's office.

The Swiss office opened criminal proceedings last August against two former 1MDB officials and "persons unknown." According to the Reuters news agency, when Lauber discussed the case with his Malaysian counterpart in September, the Malaysian prosecutor strongly urged him to drop his investigation.

1MDB debt

1MDB has a $11 billion debt, and there have been allegations of financial mismanagement. The Swiss prosecutors said the funds "would have been earmarked for investment in economic and social development projects in Malaysia."

1MDB is also being investigated by law enforcement agencies in Hong Kong and the United States.

jm/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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