KOTA KINABALU: A Swiss government investigation into the mystery donation of RM40 million to Sabah is still going on .
The Switzerland-based Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) said the case against UBS AG, a Swiss global financial services company operating out of Basel and Zurich, Switzerland, which is linked to the money, is continuing.
Lukas Straumann, director of BMF, confirmed that the investigation launched by the Swiss Attorney General is ongoing.
“It started on Aug 29 and is expected to take a couple of months at least until its conclusion,” he said in a message to his affiliates here.
The statement comes after the Dewan Rakyat was told on Oct 11 that the amount concerned that was seized by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) from a Sabah businessman at the Hong Kong International Airport in 2008 was a ‘political contribution’ to Sabah Umno by an unidentified donor.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz in a written reply to parliament on the outcome of the investigation into the affair denied that the seized amount was Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman’s money.
However BMF’s Straumann said: “We have submitted strong evidence showing the relationship between UBS and the Musa family.
” From what we see, it is a very clear case of money-laundering. This is why the
official investigation was opened in the first place.”
He added that BMF has applied to be admitted as a private plaintiff in order to gain access to the case files.
“This might be a unique chance to find out more on the business between UBS and Musa because Swiss banking secrecy will be lifted during the investigation.
“Our position in this application is much stronger if we are backed by people from Sabah. This is why we seek to get plaintiffs from among Sabahans,” Straumann said referring to the BMF offer published in local news portal and also in its letters.
It is understood that several Sabahans have consented to be plaintiffs in the case being pursued in Switzerland.
Musa, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s point man in Sabah and the state’s longest serving Chief Minister has found himself in centre-stage after Sabah timber tycoon, Michael Chia Tien Foh, the man caught red-handed with S$16 million (about RM40 million) in his bag was detained by the ICAC in 2008.
Chia had allegedly told the ICAC that the money was not his but the Sabah Chief Minister’s. Musa subsequently denied all knowledge of Chia despite claims by Sabah businessmen that the two were close associates.
Nazri, who is also de facto Law Minister, has unwittingly added further controversy to the affair by sweeping it aside as a simple matter.
No explanation was given why the large amount of cash was being hand carried by Chia rather than through a an inter-bank transaction or how the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had come to the conclusion it was a political donation for Sabah Umno after investigating the case for four years.
Musa in a statement at the last Sabah State Assembly sitting said that he was not afraid of any investigation over the RM40 million and that the money was not his but Umno’s.
His remarks came days after Najib said in Kuala Lumpur that MACC had completed its investigation and that the papers were then with the Attorney-General, Abdul Gani Patail who is related to Musa through marriage.
While Nazri has claimed that the powerful ICAC wrapped up its case (perhaps through a government-to-government arrangement), it is not known for now how the Hong Kong-based Chia can escape prosecution as it is illegal for anyone to bring or take out such a large some of cash without a permit.
Chia’s link to Musa, who is also in charge of Yayasan Sabah which holds in trust for Sabahans large tracts of timber concession areas, was exposed by Sarawak Report which published online, flow charts of the money transactions that connected them.