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Monday, September 30, 2013

Taib and family escape Swiss probe

The office of the Attorney-General of Switzerland says although the Taib family once held assets in a Swiss bank, these were withdrawn in 1999.
KUCHING: The Swiss government cannot open criminal proceedings against Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and his family because they no longer have any assets in Swiss banks.
The Attorney-General of Switzerland said although the family once held assets in a Swiss bank, these were withdrawn in 1999.
The Basel-based Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) said the office of the Attorney General of Switzerland confirmed this last week.
The Swiss A-G’s investigation was triggered by a criminal complaint by the BMF and Swiss MP Carlo Sommaruga.
The complaint involved four accused banks and FINMA, the Swiss bank regulator.
Sommaruga had described Taib, his family and “entourage” as having formed or being part of a “criminal organisation” as defined by article 260 of the Swiss Penal Code.
He also demanded that the government confisticate all assets “at the power of this criminal organisation” that had been deposited in Switzerland as defined by article 72 of the Swiss Criminal Code.
In its latest statement posted on its website, BMF said it welcomed the A-G’s declaration but called on the Taib family to come clean and declare their foreign assets and explain their origins.
“In particular, there is a need to clarify the amount and whereabouts of the assets formerly held by a Swiss bank and withdrawn in 1999,” it said.
In June 2011, Taib declared in the Sarawak State Assembly that he had no Swiss bank account. But BMF research showed that Taib’s closest family members had accounts and were also holding stakes in Malaysian corporations to the tune of US$1.5 billion (RM4.5 bil).
His family also held properties in Canada, UK, USA and Australia. These assets were estimated to be worth US$15 billion (RM45 billion).
Report against Musa Aman too
BMF has been at the forefront of a “war” against Taib’s wealth which they claimed was derived from land development policies which strippped Sarawak of its rainforest and displaced thousands of indigenous tribes.
In September last year BMF called on anti-corruption and anti-money-laundering authorities worldwide to investigate the Taib family’s business activities.
In its report ‘The Taib Timber Mafia. Facts and Figures on Politically Exposed Persons from Sarawak, Malaysia’, BMF said the Taibs could be compared to Indonesia’s president Suharto and president Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines.
The report noted that Taib and his clansmen were worth US$20 billion (RM64 billion). Taib’s personal wealth they claimed stood at US15 billion (RM45 billion), making him the richest man in Malaysia.
Meanwhile BMF has also lodged a report against Taib’s collegaue in Sabah, Musa Aman.
Swiss prosecutors confirmed last week that a criminal procedure against Swiss bank UBS is still ongoing for the alleged laundering of US$90 million on behalf of Musa, Sabah’s Chief Minister.
The criminal procedure was opened in August 2012 following a criminal complaint by BMF.

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