PETALING JAYA – Bersih 2.0, the Centre to Combat Cronyism and Corruption (C4) and 110 other local NGOs launched a campaign today to get the Switzerland government to return 104 million Swiss francs (RM433 million) to “ordinary Malaysians”.
The funds associateCXd with 1MDB investments had been confiscated from Swiss banks by Swiss authorities investigating allegations of money laundering.
“We want the people to know about the money and that we can get it back. Even if we get back 50% of the money, it is considered a success,” C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel said.
She added that the groups are requesting the Swiss government to work with an independent foundation to channel the money back to Malaysians, and not the government.
The campaign was launched at a press conference which was also attended by Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah and Global Bersih steering committee member Ivy Josiah.
According to Josiah, Swiss law allows aggrieved parties or countries to get their money back.
“Swiss law allows aggrieved parties or countries to get back money that is laundered, to improve the people’s lives in the home country.
“This gives us, the civil groups, space to claim our money and get it sent to the people,” she said, adding that the groups had sent a letter to the Swiss government on this matter and were awaiting a response from them.
Maria said the money should not be returned to the Malaysian government as the true victims were the people.
“They (the government) were not ‘victims’ of 1MDB but had instead been allegedly involved in the matter,” she said, calling for investigations into 1MDB not to cease.
When asked if the groups are prepared to endure the recovery bid that may take years, Maria said the groups are ready.
“We cannot let our hard earned money go away and that is why we are doing something now,” she said.
Swiss Attorney-General Michael Lauber was reported as saying in April that the country’s investigations into 1MDB was making progress despite Malaysian authorities allegedly refusing to cooperate.
“It’s not hopeless, in fact it’s the opposite,” he had been quoted as saying by Reuters.