Timber-Scandal: criminal complaint against Swiss bank UBS over money laundering

The Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) has filed a complaint against the Swiss bank UBS with Zurich’s Public Prosecutor over the bank’s ties with Musa Aman, a Malaysian politician who controls logging in Sabah, a Malaysian state in North Borneo.

The brother of Malaysia’s Foreign Minister is being accused of having laundered over USD 90 million of corruption proceeds through a number of bank accounts with UBS in Hong Kong and Zurich. In April 2012, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice confirmed that Switzerland has given legal assistance to Hong Kong authorities over Musa’s ties with UBS.

Numerous documents handed in as evidence to the Zurich Public Prosecutor’s Office prove that Michael Chia, a close associate of the Sabah Chief Minister, organized large cash payments from timber companies with logging interests in Sabah to UBS bank accounts in Hong Kong. From the same accounts, payments have been made to Musa Aman’s sons in Australia and to Mohd Daud Tampokong, a senior forestry official from Sabah.

“How UBS ought to handle banking relationships with politically exposed persons (PEPs) is stated in the law and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority’s (FINMA) regulations. These rules were blatantly disregarded in that no suitable measures were taken for enforcing them. That makes UBS liable in accordance with the provisions of Art.102 para 2 and Art.305bis of the Swiss Criminal Code”, the complaint by professor Monika Roth, a lawyer and well-known Swiss compliance expert, states.

The endangered rainforests of Borneo are one of the world’s biodiversity centres, which the Malaysian government committed to protect by signing the “Heart of Borneo” declaration in 2007 but it has failed to take action against logging-related corruption by the Sabah and Sarawak state governments under their highly corrupt Chief Ministers, Musa Aman and Taib Mahmud.

Link to the article by the Bruno Manser Fund

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