British anti-fraud agency joins 1MDB corruption probe

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 — Amid increasing global scrutiny, a UK government department has started its own independent corruption investigation into the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

British daily, The Times, reported in its Sunday edition that its country’s Serious Fraud Office is looking into the 1MDB allegations published in the Sarawak Report, a London-based whistleblower website founded by Clare Rewcastle-Brown, the sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

“The Serious Fraud Office is examining evidence, uncovered by a British campaigner, of an alleged money-laundering scandal that threatens to topple the Malaysian prime minister,” The Times reported yesterday.

It also wrote that the Serious Fraud Office is also examining the case where Swiss authorities have frozen bank accounts linked to 1MDB amid investigation into the troubled state-owned firm.

Hong Kong police have also started investigations on bank deposits of more than US$250 million in the city that were allegedly linked to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the Financial Times reported last Friday.

The international business publication said Hong Kong authorities were prompted by a police report from sacked Penang Umno division leader Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan, who alleged that the deposits, which were allegedly made at a Credit Suisse branch in Hong Kong, were made through four companies allegedly linked to Najib: Alliance Assets International, Cityfield Enterprises, Bartingale International and Wonder Quest Investment.

US-based daily the Wall Street Journal reported in July that almost US$700 million (RM3.01 billion) was moved through various companies linked to 1MDB and transferred to Swiss-based Falcon Private Bank in Singapore that finally transferred it to Najib’s personal bank accounts in Malaysia.

Najib has repeatedly denied any misappropriation of funds, while the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has stated that the money was a donation from the Middle East.

Sarawak Report has also published several exposés on 1MDB and Rewcastle-Brown has been accused of colluding with several opposition lawmakers here in a conspiracy to unseat Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak by using the controversy surrounding the troubled state-owned firm.

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