Our offer to help in 1MDB probe turned down, says Swiss envoy

Swiss ambassador Michael Winzap says an offer to assist Malaysia in the 1MDB investigations was turned down by the previous government.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Swiss government had offered assistance to authorities in Malaysia in the investigation of the 1MDB scandal, but it was turned down by the previous administration, said the Swiss ambassador to Malaysia.

Michael Winzap said his government had asked for Malaysia’s cooperation in its own investigations into the scandal.

But Winzap said the Barisan Nasional government had then claimed that cooperating with Swiss authorities over the 1MDB investigations could have a negative effect on local investigations.

“But it was not our decision, we wanted the cooperation. We were immediately ready after the change of government,” he told FMT on the sidelines of a talk at Universiti Malaya.

Two months after the fall of the BN government last year, Swiss Attorney-General Michael Lauber visited his Malaysian counterpart Tommy Thomas to discuss investigations into 1MDB.

Lauber told FMT that Swiss authorities were investigating six people for alleged involvement in the 1MDB scandal and that two Swiss banks were under suspicion.

On a separate matter, Winzap said his government had opposed a 2009 referendum in his country to prevent the construction of minarets on mosques.

He said despite attempts by the government to stop the referendum, the Swiss people turned out to be supportive of it.

“The government was shocked. It is not what the government wants, but the government cannot stop the referendum,” he said, adding that the ban on minarets could be reversed in a future referendum.

He said the outcome of the referendum forced the Swiss government to summon its envoys in Muslim countries to explain the decision.