Civil society representatives are lobbying in Bern for the fair and transparent return of $104m to the Malaysian public, report Bersih 2.0, Global Bersih (Geneva), C4 (Kuala Lumpur) and Bruno Manser Fonds (Basel).
Swiss lawmakers confirmed in a meeting with civil society organisations yesterday that the Malaysian government never made an attempt to claim 104m Swiss franks (RM400m) 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 yesterday 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 the Swiss parliament.
Ahead of the motion, Malaysian NGO representatives were invited to discuss the issue with Swiss MPs at 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 Swiss parliament has to debate and vote on the 1MDB scandal while an open debate in 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 Razak wants a fresh mandate from the people, he should first account for the missing billions from 1MDB.“
Lukas Straumann, director of the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund, said, “During the last years, several 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.”