PETALING JAYA: Switzerland has sent its Attorney General here to discuss the possibility of returning 1MDB-linked funds to Malaysian coffers.
Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber and his delegation were in Kuala Lumpur yesterday to meet with his counterpart Tommy Thomas and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
“Switzerland will not enrich itself by keeping illicit or stolen assets,” Lauber said when met at a hotel yesterday.
He said it was crucial to first prioritise the rule of law and due process when it comes to criminal proceedings before moving on to restitution.
“I think it’s important to emphasise at that stage where we are, that we have to first finalise the criminal investigations.
“And only then as the second step, we are able by legal obligations to have the monies restituted,” he said.
Lauber said his visit to Malaysia was to discuss the coordination of the investigation into 1MDB, and how the differences between the legal systems of the two countries could impact criminal proceedings.
“We’re here to state our cooperation and to decide how concretely to plan our next steps, and this means setting up priorities and also exchanging the latest updates on views about the different legal systems.
“These are the types of discussions we’re having at the moment,” he said.
Lauber said he was confident that the coordination could be set up, but “it was not yet there”.
“It is too early to concretely pinpoint where they are in a specific part of the investigation,” he said.
Lauber said Switzerland had been conducting investigations since 2015, and since then been cooperating with countries such as the United States, Singapore and Luxembourg.
“We also tried to cooperate with Malaysia in 2016, but the Malaysian Attorney General back then didn’t want to cooperate with us,” he said.
According to Lauber, six people are currently under probe and two Swiss banks are suspected of involvement.
On whether it was necessary for Switzerland to cooperate with 1MDB officials here, Lauber said: “We are at the moment mainly interested with cooperation when it comes to Malaysia. If it’s necessary to cooperate with 1MDB officials, then it’s a different story and we’d like to see how it’s possible.”
He said looking at the complexity of this high profile case and taking into account specific problems faced by the prosecution authorities, the case could go on for years.
Meanwhile, it was also reported yesterday that Singaporean Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said Malaysia could go through the courts in Singapore to establish ownership of any seized assets linked to 1MDB and take steps to recover them.