In a letter to Malaysia's Attorney General (AG), the Chief Commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), an international NGO coalition is requesting that Malaysia's top prosecutors immediately arrest and criminally prosecute long-term Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud ("Taib"), his four children, his eight siblings and his first cousin, Abdul Hamed Sepawi ("Sepawi").
According to the NGOs' letter to Malaysia's top prosecutors, Taib and "thirteen of his family members as co-conspirators" are accused of "the illegal appropriation of public funds, the abuse of public office, the illegal appropriation of state land, fraud, larceny, corruption, systematic exploitation of conflicts of interest, suspected money-laundering, and conspiracy to form a criminal organization."
The letter is signed by thirteen NGOs from Malaysia, Australia, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and the United Kingdom as well as a number of individual signatories from Malaysia. Greenpeace, FERN and the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund are among its most prominent international signatories. Three NGOS from Sarawak - Borneo Resources Institute Sarawak (BRIMAS), The Network for Native Land Rights (TAHABAS) and the Sibu-based Institute for Development of Alternative Living (IDEAL) - have also endorsed the letter.
Foreign governments, corporations and media informed on Taib's corruption
Copies of the letter have been sent to all major foreign embassies in Malaysia, heads of government, cabinet ministers and prosecutors in seven countries, the top executives of ten multinational corporations who conduct business in or with Sarawak and the editors of leading media around the globe. The letter is accompanied by sixteen exhibits that document the accusations against the Taib family and can be downloaded online at www.stop-timber-corruption.org/resources.
Research by the Bruno Manser Fund has shown that Taib and his immediate family members have a stake in 332 Malaysian and 85 foreign companies worth several billion US dollars. The known Taib family stake in the net assets of 14 large Malaysian companies alone is over 1.46 billion US dollars.
Taib family accused of systematic breach of the law and the use of illegal methods
"We allege that only the systematic breach of the law and the use of illegal methods has enabled Mr. Taib and his family members to acquire such massive corporate assets", the NGO letter states. "Mr. Taib has been a state-paid public servant and government minister ever since 1963 and did not possess any significant independent assets prior to taking up office."
The letter gives three examples of Taib family-controlled Malaysian companies that have been systematically, unduly and unlawfully favoured by the Sarawak Chief Minister - Cahya Mata Sarawak (KLSE 2582), Achi Jaya Holdings and Ta Ann Holdings (KLSE 5012). Cahya Mata Sarawak holds a monopoly on cement production in Sarawak, Achi Jaya Holdings holds a monopoly on timber export licences and Ta Ann Holdings, which is headed by Taib's cousin Sepawi, has been granted more than 675,000 hectares of timber and plantation concessions without public tender.
"Pernicious and detrimental" capital flight should be heavily punished
In addition, the NGOs point to the Taib family's transfer of illicit assets worth "hundreds of millions, if not billions, of US dollars" out of Malaysia to countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Hong Kong. "This is particularly pernicious and detrimental for the economy of Sarawak and Malaysia as a whole and should thus be heavily punished."
The Taib family has been identified as being behind property companies in Canada (Sakto Corporation, City Gate International Corporation and others), in the UK (Ridgeford Properties Ltd.), in the US (Wallysons Inc, Sakti International Corporation and others) and as being closely linked to at least 22 companies in Australia. Some of these companies have, according to the NGOs' letter, been given to the Taibs free of charge by the son of Yaw Teck Seng, the founder and majority shareholder of Samling, one of Malaysia's biggest logging conglomerates. Other Taib companies, such as Regent Star and Richfold Investments in Hong Kong, have been found to be linked to a multi-million-dollar kickback scheme uncovered by Japanese tax investigators.
Malaysia's international credibility is at stake
The NGOs come to the conclusion that "the criminal nature of Mr. Taib and his family members' 'private' businesses can no longer be denied by anyone who is intellectually honest, desirous of seeing the truth and interested in the good of the Malaysian people and, in particular, the people of Sarawak".
"We would like to remind you that Malaysia, as a signatory to the UN Convention against corruption and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, has a strong international obligation to fight corruption and organized crime in an efficient, timely and expedient manner", the letter states.
Malaysia's top prosecutors are finally asked to fulfil their duty and take immediate police action against Abdul Taib Mahmud and his 13 co-conspiring family members: "Malaysia's international credibility is at stake over the Taib case."
Read the NGO letter to the Malaysian prosecutors: