Bern, Switzerland, 14 March 2018
Civil society representatives lobby in Bern for the fair and transparent return of $104million to the Malaysian public
Swiss lawmakers confirmed in a meeting with civil society organizations on Tuesday that the Malaysian government never made an attempt to claim $104 million Swiss franks (MYR 400 million) in illicit profits confiscated by Swiss bank regulator FINMA with three banks over their involvement in laundering stolen assets from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
Malaysia’s failure to claim the money is likely to result in the funds being transferred to the Swiss treasury unless Switzerland changed its asset recovery laws.
The meeting was hosted on Tuesday, 13 March 2018, by Swiss MP Carlo Sommaruga who has tabled a motion which requests for confiscated profits originating from grand corruption to be given back to the countries of origin. The motion will be discussed and voted on Thursday, 15 March in the National Council, one of the two chambers of Swiss Parliament.
Ahead of the motion, Malaysian NGO representatives were invited to discuss the issue with Swiss MPs on the occasion of a reception at Parliament House in Bern. Cynthia Gabriel, Director of the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism present in Bern said:“It is a shame that the Malaysian government has deliberately refused to acknowledge the illicit profits and financial flows related to the 1MDB, leaving the Swiss parliament to debate and vote on the 1MDB scandal. An open debate in the Malaysian parliament has never been allowed to take place.
We appreciate initiatives by MP Carlo Sommaruga and hope that other Swiss lawmakers would support the motion for the accountable return of assets to the Malaysian public.
Bala Chelliah, director of the Geneva-based Malaysian civil society group Global Bersih said: “If Prime Minister Najib wants a fresh mandate from the Malaysian people, he must first account for he missing billions”.
Shahrul Aman, Acting Chairperson of BERSIH 2.0 hopes that the money could be returned to the Rightful Beneficiaries, the People of Malaysia via an independent Trust Fund.
Lukas Straumann, director of the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund said: “During the last years, seveal billions dollars have been confiscated worldwide in corruption proceedings. Switzerland has a great international responsibility in this issue and should take the lead to enable a fair and transparent recovery of corruption proceeds to the countries of origin.”