Swiss bank UBS has got caught up in allegations of money-laundering and timber corruption by a Malaysian minister in the Borneo rainforest.
The Federal Prosecutor’s Office and the Federal Justice Office have confirmed that Switzerland last year gave legal assistance to Hong Kong in a money-laundering case against Musa Aman, Chief Minister of the Malaysian State of Sabah on Borneo.
According to the Bruno Manser Fund, a Swiss non-governmental organisation, Malaysian media reported last week that Aman was being investigated by Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption for having laundered more than $90 million (SFr82 million) through UBS accounts in Hong Kong and Switzerland.
In return for the kickbacks, Aman allegedly granted concessions to log tropical hardwoods in the Borneo rainforest, one of the world’s most diverse natural habitats.
In a statement to swissinfo.ch, UBS said: "The anti-money-laundering policies applied by UBS are among the strictest worldwide. If assets linked to criminal activity were discovered to have been deposited with UBS, then UBS would be obliged to notify the money-laundering authorities."
The Bruno Manser Fund has been campaigning for Malaysia’s Penan tribe for two decades. It strongly criticised UBS for allegedly allowing timber kickbacks to be laundered through its accounts.
It added it was currently examining whether the bank’s conduct includes legal offences under Swiss law.