A bid to get the funds associated with 1MDB investments that had been confiscated from Swiss banks by Swiss authorities investigating allegations of money laundering.
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”.
“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.
The groups are requesting the Swiss government to work with an independent foundation to channel the money back to Malaysians, and not the government.
Besides Gabriel, among those present at a press conference to launch the campaign were 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,” Josiah said.
She revealed that the groups had written to the Swiss government on the matter and were waiting for 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.
She also called for investigations into 1MDB to continue.
When asked if the groups were prepared to endure the recovery bid that may take years, Maria said they were ready.
“We cannot let our hard earned money go away and that is why we are doing something now,” Maria said.
In April, Swiss Attorney-General Michael Lauber was reported as saying that the country’s investigations into 1MDB were making progress despite Malaysian authorities allegedly refusing to cooperate.
“It’s not hopeless, in fact, it’s the opposite,” Lauber had been quoted as saying by Reuters.