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Friday, April 20, 2012
ICAC And UBS Say No Comment to Sabah Money Laundering Report
In an article carried by Asia Sentinel, the ICAC when asked to verify Sarawak Report's mass of transactions and documents on claim of Musa Aman misdeeds said "We would not comment on questions on operational matters."
UBS has responded in similar fashion in the article below.
But says its policy is to cooperate fully with authorities
The Swiss bank UBS, at the center of allegations of money laundering by Sabah’s chief minister Musa Aman, said it couldn’t comment on the claims although a spokesman for the bank said UBS is fully committed to assisting in the fight against money laundering.
“UBS does not comment on market speculation or rumor,” Mark Panday, a spokesman for the bank’s operations in Hong Kong, told Asia Sentinel. “However, in all markets in which it operates, UBS’s policy is to cooperate fully with regulators. Indeed, it is committed to assisting in the fight against money-laundering, including corruption and terrorist financing.”
The Sarawak Report, an NGO based in Kuching and London, alleged in a report made public Sunday that more than US$90 million was passed circuitously in 2007 by Sabah lawyer Richard Christopher Barnes from Musa into Barnes’ UBS Hong Kong account before it was forwarded in turn to a UBS Zurich account in the chief minister's own name.
The money transfers allegedly were shepherded by a UBS client manager named Denis Chua, who originally worked at the Singapore branch for HSBC Hong Kong until 2006. According to the report, Chua moved to UBS, taking the accounts with him.
The Sarawak Report said Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption discovered the transactions in an investigation into alleged money-laundering by a Musa associate, Michael Chia Tien Foh, and compiled a detailed list of the transactions between Barnes, Chia and the UBS accounts.
Denis Chua is believed to have left UBS. A call to the UBS Hong Kong office elicited no response. Panday declined any further comment on the matter.
Hong Kong’s money-laundering law, which appears to be focused mainly on drug trafficking, nonetheless make it an offense for bankers, lawyers or accountants to deal with property they know or have reasonable grounds to believe represents the proceeds of drug trafficking or other serious crimes. Offenders are subject to a maximum of 14 years in prison. Records must be kept on any transaction over HK$8,000, the rough equivalent of US$1,000.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s voluminous guidelines put the onus on banks and other financial institutions and their professional employees to ensure that companies follow legal guidelines on deposits. As required by the guidelines, banks make it a common practice to subject all employees dealing with the transfer of funds to regular, detailed briefings on money-laundering statutes and the penalties involved.
The need to guard against money laundering received new impetus in 2004 when the Hong Kong Monetary Authority urged banks to be especially alert to the possibility of money laundering as the territory prepared tReda moreo become an outlet for yuan-denominated deposits. In June of that year, the HKMA issued a supplement to the territory's anti-money laundering guidelines, setting out "Know-Your-Customer" principles, taking account of the requirements of a paper on "Customer Due Diligence for Banks" issued by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. Read more