Bruno Manser Fund
In a name and shame exercise, native rights advocacy group Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) has issuedd a “blacklist” of individuals it claimed are “secret foreign helpers” of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.
These “helpers”, the BMF alleged, helped Taib and his family “conduct international business transactions, hide foreign assets or gain undeserved respectability outside Malaysia”.
Amongst the most prominent of the 30 individuals from nine countries named were a head of state and three public officials.
Monaco’s Prince Albert II has been accused by BMF of maintaining too cosy a relationship with the Taib family.
The prince made a state visit to Sarawak in 2008 and received an anonymous 100,000 Euro donation for his Prince Albert II Foundation.
The BMF is demanding that Prince Albert cut ties with the Taib family and freeze potential Taib assets in Monaco’s banks.
Two of the public officials are FBI director Robert Mueller and Laura M Laughlin, the Special Agent in charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office accused of whitewashing Taib family assets in the US.
While James McWha, Adelaide University’s vice-president-cum-president, was accused of “disgracefully honouring” Taib in December 2008 by renaming a plaza on the university campus the ‘Taib Mahmud, Chief Minister of Sarawak Court’.
Other more prominent “helpers” who have made headlines for their involvement with Taib are Australian national Kharleen Tashman or “Stella”, said to be Taib’s witch doctor and spiritual medium.
Before the April 2011 state election, Stella (right) appeared in public on the occasion of Taib’s re-nomination as a candidate. This resulted in a row with a competing candidate, Salleh Jafaruddin, who later called for Stella and two other foreign bomohs to be expelled from Malaysia.
The next is former US journalist Alan Friedman, who is Taib’s public relations man and chairman of the British FBC Media group, recently embroiled in a scandal for allegedly inappropriate use of documentaries pushed to media like BBC and CNN, to erroneously promote Taib and other leaders who are their paying customers.
Family members, agents or proxies
The rest of the list of “helpers” are mostly extended family members and business representatives or proxies who allegedly ran business interests for the Taib family overseas:
- John Antoine Kiosoglous (MBE), who is a former member of the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and Sydney lawyer Gary Patrick Doherty who allegedly hold various directorships for the family.
- Sean Patrick Murray, Taib’s Canadian son-in-law, married to daughter Jamilah and and alleged to be fronting for the Taib’s north American property empire.
- Chinese national Shea Kin Kwok, founding director of Regent Star and a number of other Taib-related companies in Hong Kong.
- Mrs Romney-Leue, allegedly facilitating concealment of illicit foreign assets by Taib linked companies, Astar Properties Ltd, Tess Investments Ltd, Tagus Investments Limited and CMS (Cahya Mata Sarawak) BVI in the British Virgin Islands.
- Deutsche Bank CEO Joe Ackermann, blamed for joint venture with the Taibs’ Cahya Mata Sarawak-Deutsche Bank’s Taib ties from a money-laundering compliance perspective.
- Norwegian executive Torstein Dale Siøtveit who heads Sarawak Energy and directly responsible for the Sarawak state government’s dams which are threatening the livelihood of tens of thousands of natives in Sarawak’s interior.
- Ta Ann Tasmania’s director David Merrick Ridley a who handles Taib’s logging interests.
- Robert Geneid, is a key helper for Taib businesses inside and outside Malaysia.
Two other listed however appears to have gone missing or been found dead.
Farok Majeed, a former business associate to Onn Mahmud (Taib’s brother) went missing after a New South Wales court awarded him A$2.2 million in damages against Onn Mahmud for unpaid work by his construction company.
This seem to be similar with 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, after systemically harassed following the filing of a civil case against his former employer, the Taibs’ US-based Sakti International Corporation.
Taib, the longest serving chief minister of Malaysia’s largest state since 1981, has been accused of plundering Borneo’s rainforest and massive abuses of power for personal gain.
Perceived to be one of South-East Asia’s most corrupt political families, members of the CM’s family are involved in global business operations estimated at several billion US dollars.
Numerous complaints and exposes have led to authorities in Malaysia, Australia, Germany and Switzerland to investigate the legality of the Taib family’s business holdings and assets.
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.