Swiss government refuses to disclose Taib probe findings
Disappointed with the Swiss government: the National Council's Deputy Speaker, Greens MP Maya Graf (Picture: BMF)
(BERN, SWITZERLAND) Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf refused to disclose today in parliament if Malaysian potentate Abdul Taib Mahmud has assets in Swiss banks or not. With reference to an investigation launched earlier this year by Switzerland's Financial Market Supervisory Authority, FINMA, Widmer-Schlumpf said that FINMA had "no possibility nor the right" to disclose any information on its findings to the public.
"FINMA will inform the directly affected persons only" on the results of its investigations, Widmer-Schlumpf said. She replied to a question brought up in the National Council by Deputy Speaker and Greens MP, Maya Graf, who insisted that there was a considerable public interest in knowing if the highly corrupt Malaysian politician had assets in Swiss banks.
Swiss environmental and human rights campaigners reacted with dismay to the Swiss government's stand. "How can it be that our authorities will inform a corrupt potentate but not the public on the findings of their investigations?", the Bruno Manser Fund wrote in a statement. "The message to all dictators in the world is basically: Bring your stolen money to Switzerland. As long as you are in power, noone will be able to find out about it nor touch it."
"I am disappointed that the Swiss government is hiding behind the Swiss banking secrecy and thus helps promote corruption in countries with weak governments", Greens MP Maya Graf said. "There is no point in complaining about the destruction of the world's tropical rainforests as long as Western countries assist corrupt families like the Taibs enrich themselves by cutting down the forests."
Research by the Bruno Manser Fund has shown that Taib and his family have accumulated stakes in more than 400 companies in 25 countries and offshore jurisdictions, worth billions of dollars. The Taib family's stake in the net assets of 14 large Malaysian companies alone is worth more than 1.4 billion US dollars.
Last week, an international NGO coalition asked the Malaysian authorities to arrest and prosecute the Taib family for corruption, fraud and other charges. The Malaysian government has hitherto declined to comment on the grave allegations against the Taibs. Abdul Taib Mahmud himself reacted with refusing to meet the press after the weekly state cabinet meeting - for the first time in 30 years of being in power.
(19 December 2011)
Follow our tweet.