Malaysian state leader denies secret Swiss funds
The chief minister of a resource-rich state on Malaysia's Borneo island who is facing investigation over claims of corrupt timber dealings Wednesday denied he has a secret Swiss account.
Activists allege Sarawak chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud has stashed away billions from illegal timber concessions.
"Let me state categorically that I have no secret Swiss bank account nor asset or investment of any description in Switzerland. None what so ever," he was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency.
Taib, 75, who has governed Sarawak for three decades, has previously denied allegations of large-scale corruption involving his family and political allies.
Swiss-based environmental campaigners the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) allege Taib is "the main culprit behind the destruction of Sarawak's tropical rainforests".
They also accuse him of hiding "billions of dollars of ill-gotten assets" overseas.
In early June Malaysia's Anti-Corruption Commission said it had started a probe into the allegations.
Taib told local lawmakers that the corruption allegations had been used by local politicians to attack him and refuted the secret Swiss account claims by BMF.
"The BMF has a track record of scurrilous and scandalous allegations against the Sarawak government for many years," he said decrying the accusations as a "malicious effort to smear" his state government.
Taib's coalition was re-elected to rule Sarawak in polls in April despite the allegations.
Activists claim Taib's administration has ill-treated the state's large tribal communities and exploited its rich natural resources.
The Bruno Manser Fund is named after a Swiss environmental activist who campaigned against deforestation and for the Penan tribal community. He went missing in Sarawak's jungle in 2000.
© 2011 AFP