It is thanks to the blind eye turned by Singapore and Hong Kong branches of two global banks, HSBC and UBS that Musa Aman and Chia have then been able to launder this money and funnel it, as we have demonstrated, through a series of off-shore accounts into Musa’s own Zurich bank account.
On numerous counts the manner in which first HSBC and then UBS have handled the millions of US, Singapore and Australian dollars sloshing around in Chia’s accounts, breached the rules of compliance that banks are supposed to abide by to prevent money-laundering.
Both banks should be thoroughly investigated on this matter and held to account, and prosecutors in Switzerland and the environment NGO the Bruno Manser Fund have this week taken further action to ensure that just such an investigation will take place.
Bruno Manser Fund have now issued letters of complaint to the two major regulatory bodies of Singapore, the Monetary Authority and the Financial Investigation Division to alert them to the behaviour of UBS bank and HSBC in their conduct of the Musa Aman-linked accounts in Singapore.
These complaints cannot be ignored in the light of the fact that The Swiss Federal Attorney General’s Office has also in the past few days announced that it has now formally opened its investigations with relation to UBS, following the receipt of Sarawak Report’s dossier of evidence.
That case will have been further informed by the extensive information provided to the Swiss by the Hong Kong authorities, who originally arrested Michael Chia in possession of $16million dollars back in 2008.
Even, Malaysia’s own authorities have also been forced to at last acknowledge what other countries have long been investigating. Each day that now passes raises further questions as to why the Attorney General (Musa’s relative by marriage) has failed to act on the dossier on Musa that Prime Minister Najib Razak has confirmed in on his desk.
Compliance Because, even if Malaysia does nothing in this case, the truth will surely come out as these beleaguered banks come under international pressure to own up to their part in this affair.
Key to Musa’s ability to siphon nearly a hundred million dollars of stolen money out of Sabah has been the willingness of banks like HSBC to turn a blind eye and to break basic rules on compliance (the very fault that will now result in multi-million dollar fines for that bank in other parts of the world). These rules demand that accounts linked to politically exposed persons and accounts that take receipt of large lump sums of money should be fully scrutinised and accounted for.
The accounts run by Michael Chia, a known associate of Musa, who then passed on these sums to Musa Aman himself and provided income for Musa’s two sons, were clearly top targets for such scrutiny on both counts.
However, both HSBC and UBS failed to do so, preferring to continue to handle transactions on millions of dollars of kickback income. In 2006 HSBC did finally close down Michael Chia’s accounts, but in a manner that raises even more questions over compliance. A series of cashier orders amounting to some $20 million were handed over to Chia in order to clean out his accounts.
Chia used these cash orders to open his new accounts at UBS in Singapore, thus providing him with a complete break in the chain of transactions, whereby millions in kickback money had travelled from the accounts of Sabah based logging companies into Musa Aman’s Zurich bank accounts!
Equally questionable was UBS Singapore’s own willingness to accept these cash orders to open Chia’s new accounts. This completed the laundering of Sabah’s dirty timber money.
There are no secrets left in these transactions. Our dossiers are already with the authorities. So since this is the time for confessions and apologies, HSBC and UBS should spare further time and public money and come clean on their dealings with Musa Aman as well as all the other misdeeds revealed by the US Senate Committee. Source : Sarawak Report