Swiss lawmakers push for freeze of Taib family assets
Attorney General urged to declare the family of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud a criminal organization
(GENEVA/ BERN, SWITZERLAND) Twenty Swiss MPs have filed a motion in parliament that calls for an immediate freeze of assets held by Swiss banks on behalf of the Malaysian Taib family. Last week, Geneva MP and lawyer Carlo Sommaruga, who is spearheading the move, also lodged a criminal complaint, asking the Attorney General of Switzerland, Michael Lauber, to declare the Malaysian Taib family a criminal organization.
"All the evidence I have seen makes it clear that the Taib family is acting like a criminal organization, said Mr. Sommaruga. In his submissions to the Swiss prosecutors and to the Swiss government, he demands that "all assets under the power of this criminal organization deposited in Switzerland, specifically with the banking establishments UBS, Pictet & Cie and the private bank Edmond de Rothschild", should be confiscated under section 72 of the Swiss Criminal Code. Mr. Sommaruga compared the Taib family to the clan of former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha whose Swiss assets had been frozen.
The lawmakers’ move was triggered by recent statements by Taib’s former daughter-in-law Shanaz Abdul Majid in the syariah court in Kuala Lumpur. Shanaz, who is divorced from Taib son Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, said that her ex-husband held 111 bank accounts in ten countries and that three Swiss banks administered over 100 million US dollars for her ex-husband.
In June 2011, Taib Mahmud declared in the Sarawak state assembly that he had no secret Swiss bank account and pledged to “swiftly bring the truth to light” by fully cooperating with any probe by Swiss authorities. However, Taib refused to answer questions on the matter and did not comment on the possibility of assets held by his son or other nominees on his behalf.
Last August, Swiss prosecutors opened a criminal case against UBS in a similar case involving a Malaysian top politician. The bank is accused of having laundered over 90 million USD of corruption proceeds on behalf of Musa Aman, Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Sabah. Both Musa Aman and his Sarawak colleague Taib Mahmud have massively enriched themselves and their political cronies from the destructive and often illegal logging of Borneo’s tropical rainforests.
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