Malaysian officials investigating state investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) yesterday reached out to their Singaporean counterparts for assistance, as Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s administration acted on a pledge to cooperate with probes underway around the globe.
“Our Malaysian counterparts have requested for our assistance in relation to their 1MDB-related investigations,” the Singaporean police said in response to Bloomberg News inquiries. “We agreed to a meeting in Kuala Lumpur.”
The two sides met near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian officials said.
Singapore has seized hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and jailed bankers over transactions linked to the scandal-plagued fund.
Mahathir, who took power last month, is trying to uncover the extent of alleged embezzlement and money laundering at 1MDB, which was set up by former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak in 2009 to attract foreign investment.
Investigators in the US and Europe had complained of a lack of assistance from Malaysian authorities under the previous administration.
A member of Malaysia’s 1MDB task force formed to coordinate the probe could not comment when reached by telephone.
A cooperative Malaysia could help investigators around the world piece together how billions might have been embezzled and laundered through major financial centers in the US, Europe and Asia — to finance what the US said were spending sprees by corrupt officials and their associates.
Najib’s government and 1MDB had repeatedly insisted all its funds were accounted for.
Members of Malaysia’s 1MDB task force met with officials from the FBI and the US Department of Justice last week to discuss the focus and direction of probes.
Swiss prosecutors have said they want to start talks with their Malaysian counterparts as soon as possible to better coordinate various criminal probes in the sprawling case.
In recent years, Singapore ordered two Swiss private banks to shut, fined other large banks, seized assets and banned at least eight people from the finance industry for their actions on 1MDB-related transactions.
Singaporean authorities last month said they have cooperated extensively with their Malaysian counterparts on past requests for information on 1MDB.
Singaporean prosecutors have described 1MDB as the city-state’s largest and most complex money-laundering case.
They said Singapores banking and financial systems were used as conduits for billions of dollars siphoned from 1MDB, aided by officers from the fund and bankers in the city-state who ignored suspicious and high-risk transactions for their own purposes.
The 1MDB task force said last week that an FBI letter in November 2016 to its former anti-graft head had not been responded to.
PLACED ON LEAVE
A US Department of Justice request for mutual legal assistance to Malaysian Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali in September last year was not fulfilled and was postponed with the reason that it would interfere with investigations done by Malaysian authorities, and no cooperation was extended, the task force said.
Apandi has been placed on leave by Mahathir.
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