Sarawakians show guarded response to money-laundering charges against Taib

Desmond Davidson

Picture taken on May 21, 2013 shows Sarawak governor Abdul Taib Mahmud (centre) arriving at the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly in Kuching. His daughter is accused of money-laundering in Canada. – AFP, September 20, 2017.

SARAWAKIANS will “wait-and-see” in response to news that a Canadian court in Toronto will hear a money-laundering case against the daughter of Sarawak Governor Abdul Taib Mahmud.

“Let’s see what happens,” was environmental rights activist’s Peter Kallang’s guarded reaction to the report.

“Have heard this before and nothing came of it.”

It has been reported that Swiss environmental group Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) is attempting to get three Canadian banks and an audit firm to disclose financial information on Sakto Corporation, a real estate group belonging to Taib’s eldest daughter Jamilah Murray.

Kallang had worked closely with BMF on his successful campaign to stop the construction of the Baram hydroelectric dam.

BMF filed the case in June against the Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Manulife Financial Corporation, and Deloitte & Touche. BMF wants access to financial records of the Ottawa-based Sakto and its affiliated companies for a potential private prosecution.

“If you were to read the book, ‘Money Logging: On the trial of the Asian Timber Mafia’ by Lukas Straumann, it would seem there is much evidence pointing to that (money laundering).”

The book was published in 2014.

“(In Malaysia) they didn’t do anything about it.

“When we reported to MACC that Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) was awarding contracts to companies linked to Taib’s son (Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib) and Taib’s family they asked us to provide evidence.

“What is MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) for then?”

The contracts Kallang referred to were worth RM680 million and awarded in 2013 to Sarawak Cable, Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS) and Naim Holdings.

Taib was the Sarawak chief minister at the time.

Mahmud is board chairman and the largest shareholder of Sarawak Cable, a cable and wire manufacturer.

CMS is the flagship of the Taib family business empire.

“Let’s see what the Canadian court can do,” Kallang said.

Political activist Lina Soo said the developments in Canada were “interesting”.

Like Kallang, Soo is also waiting to see the outcome.

“Will be eagerly awaiting the court findings,” she said.

Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How of PKR  was more guarded in his reaction in a classic case of “once bitten, twice shy”.

See, who was the VIP guest at the launch of Money Logging in Kuching on October 29, 2014, said he had to be careful because he had already been sued once by Taib.

Taib had sued him another PKR leader Wan Zainal Abidin Wan Senusi for distributing photocopies of a 2007 article by Malaysiakini which was later found to lack truth.

See and Wan Zainal had had to apologise to Taib.

“Must be careful not to invite another suit,” said See today. – September 20, 2017.

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