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Swiss bank obstructs Borneo timber corruption investigation

Swiss bank obstructs Borneo timber corruption investigation

UBS challenges Swiss federal prosecutors over Malaysia money-laundering case

(LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND) Swiss bank UBS has won a case in a Swiss Court in Berne against the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland over the use of evidence in an ongoing investigation on the laundering of Malaysian corruption proceeds. An appeal by the Attorney General's Office against this court decision is currently pending at the Swiss Federal Court in Lausanne.

This was reported by the Swiss weekly, “Schweiz am Sonntag”.

UBS is apparently trying to impede the prosecutors from using evidence they have obtained in an investigation against the bank over its business relationship with Malaysian politician Musa Aman and his nominees. UBS has requested that key evidence on the case be sealed and that federal prosecutors be barred from using the evidence in a criminal case against the bank.

The case was opened in August 2012, following a complaint under Swiss criminal law by the Bruno Manser Fund. UBS has been accused of laundering over 90 million US dollars of illicit funds paid by timber tycoons to Musa Aman, the Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo. The story was first broken by Sarawak Report who disclosed that the bribes were paid into bank accounts with UBS subsidiaries in Hong Kong and Singapore.

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland confirmed legal disputes on the sealing and unsealing of evidence in the ongoing investigation. Last year, Swiss authorities requested legal assistance from Malaysia and third countries over the matter.

UBS' court action contravenes the bank's repeated assurances that it is cooperating with the investigation. However, the bank said that, despite the court action over the sealing of evidence, it was still basically cooperating with prosecutors in the case.

The Bruno Manser Fund calls on UBS to stop obstructing this important case and to fully cooperate with prosecutors.

(26 July 2015 / UPDATED 10 August 2015)

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