Switzerland’s Attorney General has opened a criminal case against UBS, the Swiss banking group, over suspected money-laundering of timber corruption proceeds from the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo. This has been confirmed today by the Office of the Attorney General in the Swiss capital, Bern, reports Bruno Manser Fund.
The case against UBS was opened on 29 August 2012, following a criminal complaint by the Bruno Manser Fund over the bank’s close ties with Musa Aman, Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Sabah. Musa Aman and his nominees have been accused of laundering over US$90m of corruption proceeds from the tropical timber business in Sabah, Borneo, through a number of UBS bank accounts in Hong Kong. Musa Aman also has a personal bank account with UBS in Zurich. According to the Bruno Manser Fund, UBS has failed to properly apply due diligence, as is required by law when dealing with Politically Exposed Persons (PEP). Musa Aman is not only head of the Sabah state government but also the brother of the Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anifah Aman.
The case is based on Switzerland’s tough anti-money-laundering legislation, which makes it a criminal offence for Swiss companies to be involved in laundering the proceeds of corruption and other crime in their worldwide activities.
The Swiss case is hitting the Malaysian government at a critical moment, just two weeks before the announced visit of the British royal couple, Prince William and Kate Middleton. The Duke and Duchess are planning to visit Sabah on 15 September 2012 in order to see the “largest remaining rainforest” at Danum Valley. Sabah’s head of government, Musa Aman, has personally benefited from the large-scale logging of the nearby tropical rainforests, one of the world’s most biodiverse habitats.