Switzerland confirms money-laundering probe into UBS, Malaysian politician

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BERN/ZURICH, Switzerland – The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland confirmed on 20 April 2012 that Switzerland has given legal assistance to Hong Kong in a money-laundering case against Musa Aman, the Chief Minister of Sabah, reports the Bruno Manser Fund.

Musa Aman is the older brother of Foreign Minister Anifah Aman.

In a statement to the Zurich-based weekly, Sonntagszeitung, spokespersons for the Attorney General and the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said that the files on the case have been transmitted to Hong Kong authorities on 31 March 2011. The officials added that Switzerland could not provide further details as the relevant enforcement agency in Hong Kong had the lead in the investigation.

UBS headquarters in Zurich refused to comment on the matter and said that, in all markets it was operating in, the bank complied with the regulatory and legal framework.

Malaysian media reported last month that Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman is being investigated by Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) for allegedly having laundered over US$90m of timber corruption money through UBS bank accounts in Hong Kong and Switzerland. According to Sarawak Report, Malaysian prosecutors refused to cooperate with Hong Kong in the matter allegedly because Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail is a relative and a close political ally of Musa Aman.

In return for the alleged kickbacks, the Sabah Chief Minister allegedly granted concessions to log tropical hardwoods in the Borneo rainforest, one of the world’s most biodiverse habitats. In February 2007, the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei committed to protect the Borneo rainforest in the trilateral “Heart of Borneo” declaration

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The Bruno Manser Fund asks the Hong Kong authorities to provide details on the results of its investigations as this is a question of highest public interest at the international level. The Bruno Manser strongly criticises UBS for allegedly allowing timber kickbacks to be laundered through its accounts and is currently examining if the bank’s conduct includes legal offences under Swiss law.

Source: www.bmf.ch/en/

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