Newspaper article International New York Times

Swiss Widen Malaysian Fund Case ; 2 Emirati Officials Face Criminal Investigation, Attorney General Says

Newspaper article International New York Times

Swiss Widen Malaysian Fund Case ; 2 Emirati Officials Face Criminal Investigation, Attorney General Says

Article excerpt

The officials were being investigated for fraud, criminal mismanagement, money laundering, bribery and forgery, the Swiss attorney general's office said.

The Swiss authorities said on Tuesday that they had started a criminal investigation into two officials in charge of a sovereign wealth fund in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, as part of an inquiry into the financial transactions of the troubled Malaysian state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

The attorney general's office in Switzerland said in a statement that it had widened its corruption investigation into the Malaysian fund, also known as 1MDB, to include the two Emirati officials over an apparent misappropriation of payments. The officials are being investigated for fraud, criminal mismanagement, money laundering, bribery and forgery, the attorney general's office said. The statement left them unnamed, following normal practice for such investigations.

The disclosure adds another twist to a scandal that has rocked the government of Malaysia's prime minister, Najib Razak, who is also the country's finance minister and the chairman of 1MDB's advisory board, and that has bruised relations between Malaysia and Switzerland.

The Swiss attorney general's office said it was looking into payments related to a guarantee that Abu Dhabi had provided for a series of bonds issued by 1MDB-related companies to finance electric power plants. The office added that it had asked Luxembourg and Singapore to assist its inquiries.

The statement said the Swiss authorities had information "allowing them to suspect that the amounts paid in connection with this guarantee were not returned to the Abu Dhabi sovereign fund that supported the commercial risk."

"To the contrary, these funds would have benefited others," including two officials in charge of the unnamed Abu Dhabi fund, a film industry company and a "former 1MDB body" already under investigation by Swiss authorities, the attorney general's office said.

The announcement is the latest in a flurry of allegations swirling around the affairs of the debt-burdened 1MDB, which are under scrutiny by the United States Justice Department and the authorities in Hong Kong, Luxembourg and Singapore. …

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