Over 90 million US dollars alleged to be kickbacks for the illegal logging of tropical hardwoods in the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo have been traced through UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank. The bank is facing serious money-laundering allegations following the disclosure of a series of documents linking Malaysian top politicians to secret UBS bank accounts in Hong Kong and Zurich. Read more about the allegations below.
For more information on timber corruption in Borneo, please visit: https://borneoproject.org/our-work/ongoing-campaigns/stop-timber-corruption-in-sarawak
UBS faces money-laundering allegations in Malaysian timber scandal
Secret bank accounts with UBS in Hong Kong and Zurich: Musa Aman, Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Sabah
(ZURICH, SWITZERLAND) UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank, is facing serious money-laundering allegations following the disclosure of a series of documents linking Malaysian top politicians to secret UBS bank accounts in Hong Kong and Zurich.
According to Malaysian media reports, the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) and Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) have been tracing the flow of over 90 million US dollars through UBS bank accounts in Hong Kong, which are alleged to be kickbacks for the illegal logging of tropical hardwoods in the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo.
Bank statements and other documents published by the whistleblower website, Sarawak Report, indicate that several million dollars’ worth of illicit funds have been paid into UBS accounts handled by nominees of Musa Aman (“Musa”), who is the Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Sabah and the brother of Malaysian foreign minister, Anifah Aman. The funds are alleged to be kickbacks from Malaysian timber operators paid to Musa, in return for being allowed to exploit tropical hardwood logging concessions in the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo. The Borneo rainforest is one of the most biodiverse habitats on Earth and is strongly endangered by destructive logging and politically-backed clear-cutting.
In 2008, the Hong Kong authorities arrested one of Musa’s nominees, Malaysian national Chia Tien Foh, while trying to smuggle 16 million Singapore dollars in cash to Malaysia. The subsequent investigation involved the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission but came to a dead end due to interference by the Malaysian Attorney-General, who is a close relative of the Aman family. Musa Aman was also found to be the holder of a UBS bank account in Zurich, Switzerland, that was linked to the Hong Kong transactions.
Prior to this latest disclosure, UBS was in the limelight over dodgy deals with Taib Mahmud, the notoriously corrupt Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak. In 2004, the bank ran a 350-million-US-dollar loan for the Taib government in Labuan, a Malaysian offshore finance centre. Taib Mahmud is currently under investigation by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission.
The Bruno Manser Fund condemns UBS for its failure to implement sufficient safeguards against deposits of politically exposed persons from Malaysia and for its complicity in laundering corruption payments linked to illegal logging of the Borneo rainforest.
(21st April 2012)