Singapore, Malaysia authorities agree to cooperate to recover lost 1MDB money

Singapore, Malaysia authorities agree to cooperate to recover lost 1MDB money

1MDB Singapore Malaysia
(Photo: Twitter/Sumisha Naidu)

SINGAPORE: Several high-ranking officials from the Singapore and Malaysia task forces looking into the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal met in Putrajaya on Thursday morning (May 31).

Both teams have agreed to work together to recover money believed to have been misappropriated from the state investment firm

In a press release, the Malaysian task force said that both nations will also work together to gather evidence and track down witnesses in Singapore "as soon as possible".

Additionally, the task force will investigate relevant "money trails" to trace any remaining cash and assets. 

The meeting, held at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters, was attended by nine officials from Singapore, comprising individuals from the Attorney-General's Chambers, Commercial Affairs Department and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

The Malaysian representatives including Abdul Gani Patail, the former attorney-general who used to head the task force before he abruptly stepped down in July 2015, and MACC chief Mohd Shukri Abdull.

At least six countries, including the United States and Switzerland, are investigating claims that US$4.5 billion was siphoned out of 1MDB, which was founded by former Prime Minister Najib Razak.

"Our Malaysian counterparts have requested for our assistance in relation to their 1MDB-related investigations, and we agreed to a meeting in Kuala Lumpur," a Singapore Police Force spokesperson said.

She gave no details of the assistance sought.

The news comes a week after Malaysian officials met officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Department of Justice, which refers to Najib as "Malaysian Official Number 1" in an anti-kleptocracy investigation of 1MDB.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing and said in 2016 that the Malaysian government would cooperate with US investigations.

Singapore has taken action against several banks and bank officials for failures of money-laundering controls over transactions related to 1MDB, including the closure of units of BSI Bank and Falcon Bank.

Malaysia's newly-elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has vowed to investigate the 1MDB scandal and act against those who may have abetted, or benefited from, corruption at the fund.

Mahathir immediately reopened 1MDB investigations after defeating Najib in the historic May 9 elections, and barred his former protege from leaving the country.

The former prime minister went to Malaysia's anti-graft agency to give a statement explaining what he knew about US$10.6 million transferred into his bank account from the fund.

Last week, Malaysia's finance minister said funds from deals with the central bank and sovereign wealth fund Khazanah were used by the previous government to meet some liabilities of the troubled state fund.

Malaysian police said they seized cash worth RM114 million (US$29 million) and more than 400 luxury handbags from Najib's home and his son's apartments as part of the investigation.

Source: Reuters/CNA/zl