KUALA LUMPUR: Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak has taken the Swiss authorities to task for “breaking protocol and spreading misinformation” over its statement concerning alleged misappropriation of funds involving 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
In an interview with the Guardian today, the minister said the statements issued by the Swiss attorney-general were “premature and appear to have been made without a full and comprehensive appreciation of all the facts.”
Salleh told the UK newspaper that the move by the Swiss AG was a highly unusual one.
“It’s very unusual, and against normal protocol, for a senior official of one country to speak publicly on the internal matters of another country. Yet that is what the Swiss Attorney General has done,” the minister was quoted as saying.
His comments came in the wake of the Swiss AG’s statement on Friday, in which it had sought assistance from Malaysia to probe a supposed embezzlement of $US4 billion from 1MDB.
It opened its case last August against two unnamed ex-1MDB officials.
The Swiss said its investigators had found “serious indications” that funds had been misappropriated.
The Swiss AG’s office yesterday had issued another statement, saying that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was not among those under accusation.
Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohd Apandi Ali had last week cleared Najib of any criminal wrongdoing in the matter involving a RM2.6 billion donation from a Saudi royal family, as well as cases involving 1MDB and SRC International.
Meanwhile, in his interview, Salleh said Swiss AG Michael Lauber should have first contacted Apandi.
“Does the Swiss AG normally talk to the media first, and then the relevant authorities afterwards?” he said. Salleh said 1MBD had undergone extensive audits since 2009 and the $4bn figure “simply could not have been misappropriated under such conditions,” Salleh was quoted as saying.
Salleh said Lauber had inferred that Apandi had been uncooperative when the Malaysian authorities had instead been waiting to hear from their Swiss counterparts for months.
The Guardian report also quoted Salleh as claiming that Lauber was spreading misinformation by saying that the Malaysian companies under probe had made no comments on the losses they supposedly incurred.
“As anyone following developments related to 1MDB is well aware, the company has issued statement after statement – providing detailed explanations, and a breakdown of its financials - to address questions that have previously been raised about these alleged losses.”
“In certain Western media outlets, there exists a bias that it’s the institutions and governments of developing countries that don’t play it straight, while Western governments do. In this case, the actions of the Swiss Attorney General prove the opposite,” Salleh was quoted as saying.
The report also sought a reply from the Swiss AG’s office over Salleh’s remarks.
A spokesman for the Swiss attorney general André Marty was quoted as saying: “As a law enforcement body and judicial authority, the (Office of the Swiss Attorney General) has not to comment on political statements.”
Marty said his office “took note with satisfaction of the reaction of its Malaysian counterpart and of its commitment to fully support Switzerland’s request for mutual assistance.”