Swiss Prosecutors Release Their Case Against PetroSaudi Directors For Trial April 2nd

Nine years after Sarawak Report first broke the story of the 1MDB/PetroSaudi ‘Joint Venture’ heist, two key protagonists are finally being brought to trial in the Swiss Federal Criminal Court (TPF) of Bellinzona starting April 2nd.

Accredited local news media were released details of the prosecution case for the first time today, with a narrative that charts the series of fraudulent acts behind the purloining of the first $1.83 billion that was siphoned out of the Malaysian fund in the first stage of the multi-billion dollar fraud.

Patrick Mahony
Patrick Mahony

According to the case by the Swiss Attorney General the two directors facing trial, Saudi National Tarek Obaid and UK citizen Patrick Mahony, could not have been unaware of the fraudulent nature of the transactions they were part of from which they netted millions into their own accounts.

“Federal prosecutors wrote that Tarek Obaid and Patrick Mahony knew or should have known, at the very least, from September 14, 2009 that the joint venture operation that they set up with Jho Low and his team was only a means of diverting 1MDB funds,”  reports the news daily Tages Anzeiger which has followed the scandal since it broke in Swizerland.

“this megacontract is an empty shell. PetroSaudi does not own any oil fields – just option rights that will never materialize – and the Obaid-Mahony duo knows this very well” continues the indictment. “One month after the summit meeting onyacht, a billion leaves the sovereign fund to land in the Swiss accounts of Jho Low and his associates. Other transactions, just as fictitious, will then allow Jho Low and his cronies to subtract hundreds of additional millions from 1MDB. 

This is a narrative that Malaysian readers of Sarawak Report have been aware of since 2015.  However, the defendants who have remained on bail and free to travel and conduct business in the intervening period have exercised their right to deny all charges.

According to Tages Anzeiger Patrick Mahony’s lawyers, Maurice Harari and Laurent Baeriswyl, have stated “the verbose indictment from the Federal Prosecutor’s Office is the culmination of a totally biased and incomplete investigation. Despite our numerous reminders of its obligation to investigate incrimination and defence, the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Confederation ignored all the facts which did not correspond to its thesis, contrary to what the law requires.”

Tarek Obaid
Tarek Obaid

The paper confirms Tarek Obaid, for his part, “will plead acquittal”, according to his lawyer Daniel Zappelli.

Although the story of 1MDB has been rehearsed already in numerous indictments and trials there will without a doubt be more details released from the investigation by the Swiss authorities into the role played by PetroSaudi’s two directors and the shareholder Prince Turki (now jailed in Saudi Arabia).

The prosecutor’s confirm that one month after the original summit meeting on a super yacht between Obaid, Prince Turki, Najib, Rosmah and Jho Low in August 2009 a billion dollars had left the sovereign fund to land in the Swiss accounts of Jho Low and his associates.

Apparently, Tarek Obaid claimed to his bankers that the money which then flowed into his accounts from the crooked deal had come for a sale of assets back in Saudi Arabia.

“Other transactions, just as fictitious, will then allow Jho Low and his cronies to subtract hundreds of additional millions from 1MDB. To reassure their banks, the two Swiss present their megacontract as approved by the king of Saudi Arabia, which is false. In 2011, Tarek Obaid also lied to UBS, explaining that the millions he received in his accounts came from the sale of land in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.” [Tages Anzeiger]

Obaid then used the money to buy buildings in Aigle, Peseux, Neuchâtel and Geneva.  Disturbingly, even after details of the scandal broke and started to make the headlines the alleged fraudster was later able to nonetheless sell these off and export the money to the UK without being impeded by the authorities.

“In February 2017, for example, Tarek Obaid managed to withdraw around 13 million accounts at the Banque Cantonale de Friborg which were funded by the sale of some of its buildings. He then transferred the money to Britain, where Swiss authorities were unable to seize it. French-speaking real estate companies also resold buildings belonging to Tarek Obaid.

In total, according to a source close to the matter, some 240 million francs could have been blocked in Switzerland, including 192 million in bank accounts and 48 million in the form of real estate. [Tages Anzeiger]

These and other details to be covered in the trial will be followed with considerable interest back in Malaysia which has sent representatives from 1MDB to act as a party to the lawsuit. All this money will be demanded back by the fund which is still struggling to service the enormous debts created by heist.

Meanwhile, the paper refers to the seriousness of the situation for the two defendants now that the law has finally closed in on them.  “The two Swiss defendants risk several years in prison” the paper says.

They could perhaps ask for advice on that matter from the original whistleblower on the case, their former fellow director Xavier Justo whom Mahony and Obaid had conspired to get imprisoned in Bangkok, where he remained for 18 months.

This was part of their joint conspiracy with Najib and Jho Low to attempt to cover up the crime by framing Sarawak Report as a blog funded by ‘opposition forces’ to make up the whole affair.

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