German Chancellor, Angela Merkel

Switzerland and German non-govermental organizations are pressuring German largest bank to severe business ties with Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud.

In a complaint letter sent to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the NGOs urging Deutsche Bank to severe its close business ties with Abdul Taib Mahmud (“Taib”), whom they described as one of South East Asia’s leading kleptocrats.

The Swiss Bruno Manser Fund, the Society for Threatened Peoples and Rettet den Regenwald, a Hamburg-based rainforest advocacy group were demanding the German government to clarify Deutsche Bank’s business ties with Taib and to freeze all Taib’s assets in Germany.

“We are seriously concerned that, as a leading German financial institute, Deutsche Bank is closely cooperating with the highly corrupt and internationally discredited Taib regime”, the NGOs wrote to Merkel.

“We feel that this cooperation cannot be in the interest of the German government, which is globally promoting the effective combating of corruption.”

According to the Swiss and German NGOs, Deutsche Bank have conducted numerous important business transactions for the Sarawak government, headed by Taib Mahmud.

In 2005, Deutsche Bank was the sole bookrunner for the US$ 600 million listing of Sarawak International Incorporated in Labuan, Malaysia’s offshore financial centre.

On December 2004, Deutsche Bank had arranged a US$ 135 million loan to Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), a state owned company controlled by Taib Mahmud.

Deutsche Bank International’s Jersey and Cayman branches are administering the Jersey-based Sogo Holdings Ltd., through which several illicit Taib family assets in the US are held.

In Malaysia, Deutsche Bank is running joint ventures with Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS), the Taib family’s business flagship, under the names of K & N Kenanga Holdings and Kenanga Deutsche Futures.

Deutsche Bank is Germany’s largest bank and one of the world’s leading financial institutions.

The bank left unanswered several written requests by the Society for Threatened Peoples to explain its business ties with Taib.

The Malaysian politician is the main culprit behind the destruction of Sarawak’s tropical rainforests, the NGOs alleged.

Earlier this month, the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) confirmed it was investigating Taib for corruption.

In May 2011, the Swiss Financial Markets Supervisory Authority, FINMA, announced a probe into suspected Taib corruption assets in Swiss banks.