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Friday, July 1, 2016

Money Laundering: Court orders Swiss bank to release Musa Aman records

KUALA LUMPUR - Records by the Swiss bank UBS on its business ties with Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman must be released to the Swiss Attorney-General’s Office, the Federal Court in Lausanne declared on Thursday. The documents, the Court said, can be used in criminal proceedings against the bank.

Despite its public announcement that it was “fully cooperating with the investigation”, UBS had key documents on its relationship with Musa sealed and refused to share them with the prosecutors, according to a statement by the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), a Swiss based NGO.

The bank argued that no accused could be forced to testify against itself, an argument which the Swiss Federal Court refused to follow in this case.

The court stated that the investigation of this grave case of international corruption and money-laundering justified the release of the relevant bank records to the prosecutors.

The judges also said that bank records field for regulatory purposes must be made available to prosecutors in criminal proceedings.

In November 2014, Swiss prosecutors confiscated confidential bank records on UBS’ relationship with Musa, allegedly involved in a USD90 million corruption scandal.

There have accusations of collecting bribes for the granting of concessions for logging of tropical rainforests in Sabah.

The payments, some of which were earmarked as “deposits for logging concessions” were allegedly collected through UBS bank accounts in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Following a complaint under criminal law by BMF, the Swiss Attorney-General’s office opened criminal proceedings against the bank in 2012.

BMF welcomed the decision by the Swiss Federal Court and expects that UBS will be charged for money-laundering in the Musa case within the next few weeks. (24 June 2016 FMT report)

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