2011-10-26

Bruno Manser Fund names Taib’s secret foreign helpers

EXCLUSIVE: The Swiss Bruno Manser Fund has released a list of thirty
individuals from nine countries who have helped Malaysian potentate
Abdul Taib Mahmud (“Taib”) and his family to conduct international
business transactions, hide foreign assets or gain undeserved
respectability outside Malaysia

BASEL, SWITZERLAND, October 25, 2011 –/WORLD-WIRE/– Thirty
individuals from nine countries have today been named and shamed by
the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund for being business partners, proxies or
other helpers of Malaysian potentate Abdul Taib Mahmud (“Taib”)
and his family. Taib, Chief Minister of Malaysia’s largest state
since 1981, has for a long time been accused of destructive logging of
the Borneo rainforest and the massive abuse of his public office for
personal gain. With his family members involved in global business
operations estimated at several billion US dollars, Taib is believed
to be one of South East Asia’s richest and most corrupt politicians.

The Bruno Manser Fund is calling on the international community to
carefully monitor and scrutinize the Taib family’s international
business transactions and investments as they are likely to be linked
to illicit activities in Malaysia. The governments of Malaysia,
Switzerland, Germany, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the
United States have been contacted and asked to investigate the Taib
family’s business activities and to freeze suspected or proven Taib
family assets in their countries.

In June 2011, the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC)
officially announced that Taib was under investigation for corruption.
Authorities in Australia, Germany and Switzerland have also indicated
to us that they would investigate the legality of Taib family
activities and potential Taib family assets.

Taib’s foreign helpers list includes one head of state and three
public officials

The Bruno Manser Fund’s list includes one head of state, Monaco’s
Prince Albert II, as well as three public officials from the United
States and Australia, namely FBI Director Robert Mueller, FBI Special
Agent Laura M. Laughlin and Adelaide University’s Vice
Chancellor-cum-President, James McWha. Most other persons on the list
are business partners of the Taib family, some of whom are accused of
helping Taib and his immediate family members to hide significant
overseas assets which are believed to be laundered proceeds of
corruption and illicit business transactions.

Prince Albert II of Monaco asked to cut ties with the Taibs

Prince Albert of Monaco is accused of maintaining an unduly close
relationship with the Taib family. In 2008, Albert made a state visit
to Sarawak, accompanied by three members of the Prince Albert II
Foundation. Last year, Albert hosted a Taib-sponsored Islamic Fashion
show in Monaco, during which he collected an anonymous 100,000 Euro
donation for his Prince Albert II Foundation. The donation was
presumably made by Taib who was on stage when Albert was given the
cheque by Rosmah Mansor, the wife of the Malaysian Prime Minister.

The Bruno Manser Fund is demanding that Prince Albert cut ties with
the Taib family and freeze potential Taib assets in Monaco’s banks.

FBI executives accused of whitewashing Taib family assets in the US

The highest-ranking public official on the BMF list is the head of the
American federal police, FBI director Robert Mueller. He is listed
together with Laura M. Laughlin, the Special Agent in charge of the
FBI’s Seattle field office.

The FBI executives are blacklisted for renting the premises of the
large FBI office in downtown Seattle from Wallysons Inc., a Washington
state company controlled by the Malaysian Taib family. In an attempt
to cover up this embarrassing relationship with one of South East
Asia’s most corrupt family clans, the FBI has left several written
complaints by the Bruno Manser Fund and other NGOs unanswered. In
March 2011, the FBI refused to meet NGO representatives who protested
in front of the FBI Seattle office against the FBI’s ties with the
Taib family.

It is an embarrassment for the American people that its federal
police, which ought to combat public corruption, is operating from
premises owned by a notoriously kleptocratic family. The Bruno Manser
Fund condemns the FBI’s role in whitewashing and legitimizing Taib
family assets in the United States and is asking for an explanation.

Adelaide University’s dodgy deals with the Taibs

Pecunia non olet (“money doesn’t stink”) was the proverbial
ancient Roman reply to allegations of dodgy deals and appears to have
become the University of Adelaide’s motto for dealing with the
Malaysian Taib family. The university has accepted large donations
from Sarawak’s corrupt Chief Minister but refuses to disclose to the
public just how much money Taib has spent on supporting his alma
mater. This earns James McWha, the University’s
Vice-President-cum-President an entry in the blacklist. The university
disgracefully honoured its corrupt “long-time benefactor” in
December 2008 by renaming a plaza on the university campus the “Taib
Mahmud, Chief Minister of Sarawak Court”.

Taib Mahmud has also been made a director of the Adelaide-based
“Australian Universities International Alumni Convention Pty Ltd”,
which earns the company’s sole shareholder, Michael Lewis Abbott, a
place on the Taib’s foreign helpers list. Abbott, a leading Adelaide
barrister, is also a former chairman of the Australia-Malaysia
Institute.

The Taibs’ Adelaide connection appears to go far deeper.
Adelaide’s Hilton hotel, which is operated by Sitehost Pty Ltd, is
fully owned by the Taib family. Sitehost’s Australian directors have
also been listed by the Bruno Manser Fund’: They are John Antoine
Kiosoglous (MBE), who is a former member of the Australian
Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and Sydney lawyer Gary Patrick
Doherty.

Besides his directorship with Sitehost, Mr. Doherty is also involved
in other remarkable business activities. A AUS $5 company with the
intriguing name Conceal Pty Ltd, which is run by Mr. Doherty and
associates, has amazed us with its leading role in massive property
developments in Western Sydney. Another person linked to Sitehost is
Melbourne-based nominee companies operator Gabriel Amira, whose
Golborne Pty Ltd enjoys a strong financial relationship with the
Taibs’ Sitehost Pty Ltd.

Key helper Sean Murray and the Taib family real estate crew

Another director of the Australian Sitehost Pty Ltd is Sean Patrick
Murray, Taib’s Canadian son-in-law. Sean is married to Taib’s
daughter Jamilah; they live in Ottawa’s Rockcliffe Park in a
9.6million-dollar mansion that has been rated Ottawa’s second most
expensive private home. Sean Murray is a director of the Ottawa-based
Sakto corporation, chairman of the British Ridgeford Properties and
president of the US-based Wallysons Inc. and Sakti International
Corporation.

While Mr. Murray claims to be the owner of these companies, the Bruno
Manser Fund has identified them as secret Taib-family investments,
which we believe to be ultimately controlled by the Sarawak Chief
Minister himself. This is why we have added Lee Gartley, Tanya Caleta,
Laird J Rasmussen and Brian Murray of Sakto, as well as Christopher
Timothy Murray (Sean Murray’s cousin), Kerstin Bowers, Shaun
Doherty, Michael Keaveney and John Murphy of Ridgeford Properties, to
the Taib’s foreign helpers list. The Taib companies run by Sean
Murray are estimated at several hundred million US dollars. While
British Ridgeford Properties is specialized in luxury buildings in
Central London, Sakto corporation has heavily invested in office
towers in Ottawa which are being rented to the Canadian and the
Ontario government.

Shea Kin Kwok, the Hong Kong agent behind Taib’s timber kickbacks
scheme

It is believed that the Taib family’s foreign properties have been
funded by corruption money such as kickbacks cashed in from the timber
industry. In 2007, the Tokyo tax authorities found out that Japanese
shipping companies who exported Sarawak timber to Japan had been
paying kickbacks to a Hong Kong company, Regent Star, which is closely
linked to Taib’s brother Onn Mahmud. This earns Chinese national
Shea Kin Kwok, founding director of Regent Star and a number of other
Taib-related companies in Hong Kong, a place on the Taib’s foreign
helpers list.

Former Taib aide Farok Majeed is missing

Farok Majeed is another former business associate of Onn Mahmud
(Taib’s brother). He was closely involved in multi-million dollar
property developments in Australia. In 2007, a New South Wales court
awarded him 2.2 million AUS dollars in damages against Onn Mahmud for
unpaid work by his construction company. Despite significant research
and a public appeal in Sarawak, Mr. Majeed cannot be located and
appears to be missing.

Mr. Majeed’s case appears to bear a striking resemblance to the case
of the late Ross Boyert, a former Taib US aide who was found dead in a
Los Angeles hotel in September 2010 in an unusual case of suspected
suicide. Prior to his death, Mr. Boyert said he and his family had
been systematically harassed ever since he had filed a civil case
against his former employer, the Taibs’ US-based Sakti International
Corporation.

Taib’s invisible hand on the British Virgin Islands

A number of Taib companies are linked to a mysterious PO Box 438 in
Road Town, Tortola, on the British Virgin Islands. This is the postal
address of Integro Trust, Equity Trust and other companies that are
being handled by Taib’s invisible hand on the British Virgin
Islands, Mrs. Linda Romney-Leue. Without offshore financial service
providers like Mrs. Romney-Leue, it would have been much harder for
the Taibs to conceal their illicit foreign assets. Astar Properties
Ltd, Tess Investments Ltd, Tagus Investments Limited and CMS (Cahya
Mata Sarawak) BVI are all Taib-linked companies who give Mrs.
Romney-Leue’s PO Box as their mail address.

Deutsche Bank CEO Joe Ackermann blamed for joint venture with the
Taibs’ Cahya Mata Sarawak

A more visible financial link is the extensive cooperation between the
Taib family’s Malaysian business flagship, Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS,)
and Deutsche Bank, which earns Deutsche Bank CEO Josef (“Joe”)
Ackermann an entry in the Taib helpers’ list. CMS and Deutsche Bank
have significant joint ventures in Malaysia, including K & N Kenanga
Holdings, of which Luigi Fortunato Ghirardello and Taib’s
son-in-law, Syed Ahmad Alwee Alsree, are directors.

CMS is a Sarawak-based construction conglomerate that benefits
routinely from untendered public contracts from the Taib government
and has made corruption the core element of its business strategy.
Another foreign Taib key helper is CMS’ Group Managing Director,
British national Richard Alexander John Curtis. CMS, a public company,
holds net assets of 1,46 billlion Malaysian Ringgits (US $467
million); at least 85% of its shares are held by the Taib family.

Deutsche Bank has also been accused of administering the Jersey-based
Sogo Holdings Inc., an alleged Taib family holding. In September 2009,
the German Federal Ministry of Finance announced that German bank
regulator BaFin is looking into Deutsche Bank’s Taib ties from a
money-laundering compliance perspective.

Norwegian CEO assisting Taib in flooding Sarawak natives

Norwegian executive Torstein Dale Siøtveit has chosen to play one of
the most problematic roles among Taib’s foreign helpers. In 2009,
Mr. Siøtveit replaced Taib’s brother-in-law at the top of Sarawak
Energy, the Taib-controlled electricity supplier of Malaysia’s
largest state. As CEO of Sarawak Energy, Mr. Siøtveit is directly
responsible for the Sarawak state government’s excessive dam plans
which are threatening the livelihood of tens of thousands of natives
in Sarawak’s interior. In the case of the planned Baram dam, the
flooding of large Kayan, Kenyah and Penan areas would come close to
cultural genocide. Taib’s dam plans are widely thought to be driven
by corruption rather than by demand for electricity. The cement for
the already-constructed Bakun, Murum, Batang Ai and Murum dams was
provided by Taib family-linked companies that hold a state-wide cement
monopoly.

Alan Friedman, Taib’s public relations man

Alan Friedman, a former US journalist and chairman of the British FBC
media group, is blacklisted for having signed a three-year public
relations contract with Taib to boost the latter’s tattered
international reputation. Friedman was to be paid 5 million US dollars
per year, but, following the disclosure of FBC’s deal with Taib by
whistleblower website Sarawak Report, it appears the contract has been
cancelled. Major news outlets such as CNBC and the BBC stopped
broadcasting shows that had been produced by the FBC Group and were in
breach of official media regulations. In one of the shows, Taib had
claimed that 70 per cent of Sarawak’s forests were still intact –
an outrageous lie.

Ta Ann represents Taib family logging interests in Tasmania

The Taib family is also known to hold a significant stake in the
Sarawak timber industry. Ta Ann Holdings Bhd is under the directorship
of Taib’s cousin Hamed Sepawi, one of Taib’s main cronies and
suspected business nominees. Ta Ann’s wholly-owned Australian
subsidiary is currently logging Tasmania’s native forests on behalf
of the Taib family. This earns Ta Ann Tasmania’s director David
Merrick Ridley a place on the Taib’s foreign helpers list.

Robert Geneid, Taib’s Australian brother-in-law

Another Australian national with a Lebanese background, Robert Geneid,
is a key helper for Taib businesses inside and outside Malaysia. In
Australia, Geneid holds significant stakes in Geneid Holdings Pty Ltd
and Ostgro Australia Pty Ltd that operates a Taib family-linked
ostrich farm in West Australia. Geneid is married to Taib’s sister
Raziah, who is currently believed to be the potentate’s most
favoured sibling. Raziah’s business interests in Malaysia alone are
estimated at several hundred million US dollars.

Last but not least: “Stella”, Taib’s witch doctor

Taib, who is extremely superstitious, has over the years used a number
of "bomohs" (witch doctors). Taib's most important bomoh, Pakistani
Ustaz Abdul Rahman Hazrat, died in 2008. Currently, his alleged main
spiritual medium "Stella" is an Australian national whose full name is
given as Kharleen Tashman. Before the April 2011 state election,
Stella appeared in public on the occasion of Taib's re-nomination as a
candidate. This resulted in a row with Taib's competitor, Salleh
Jafaruddin, who later called for Stella and two other foreign bomohs
to be expelled from Malaysia.

Download our exclusive Taib's Foreign Helpers poster (print quality)
for free under: http://www.stop-timber-corruption.org/resources

For more information, please contact us:

Bruno Manser Fund for the peoples of the rainforest

Socinstrasse 37, 4051 Basel / Switzerland

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