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Groundbreaking study details Taib’s US$21bil empire

September 20, 2012
9:06PM Sep 19, 2012 (MKini)

A ground-breaking report released by Swiss-based NGO Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) estimated the assets of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s family at US$21 billion (RM64 billion).

The wealth of Taib himself has been put at a whopping US$15 billion (RM46 billion), making him Malaysia’s richest man, outstripping tycoon Robert Kuok who has US$12.5 billion.

The report entitled ‘The Taib Timber Mafia: Facts and Figures on Politically Exposed Persons from Sarawak, Malaysia’ was released today in Brussels to coincide with a visit by the Malaysian Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Bernard Dompok to the European Commission.

NONEIt is the first report that describes in detail the business activities and personal wealth of 20 members of the Taib family in Malaysia, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, United States and other countries.

The report aimed to build international pressure against the Sarawak’s first family and provide investigating bodies, journalists, Sarawakians and interested parties with hard evidence on the Taib financial empire.

BMF estimated the combined net worth of 20 Taib family members at close to US$21 billion, spread over 400 companies around the globe – all built through their near complete political and economic control of Sarawak – one of the poorest states in Malaysia – over three decades.

However, the research is restricted to Taib’s family members and does not include the wealth of Taib’s close associates, all of whom have benefitted from the powerful chief minister’s patronage during his almost 31 years in power.

Taib holds three key posts

In particular, the family of the longest-serving chief minister in Malaysia has established monopolies over the granting of logging and plantation concessions, the export of timber, the maintenance of public roads as well as the production and sale of cement, and a number of other construction materials.

azlan“The Taib family’s business outfits, particularly its flagship company Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS), have also benefitted from untendered public contracts worth hundreds of millions of US dollars,” said BMF.

CMS is the largest private company in the state with net assets totalling RM2.4 billion in 2010.
It has been awarded some of the state’s largest contracts including the RM300 million construction of the state legislative assembly building in Kuching, a contract over the maintenance of all 4,000km-long state roads in Sarawak and a 15-year concession to maintain 643km of federal roads.

The report claimed that the Sarawak state government enjoys total autonomy as to the use of the state’s forest resources and state lands, while Taib has abused his triple positions as chief minister, state finance minister, and planning and resources minister, to award his family members vast timber concessions, palm oil concessions, state contracts and directorships in Sarawak’s largest companies.

“In 2009, his three ministries controlled 49.6 percent of the state’s operating expenditure of RM1.19 billion and 80 percent of the state’s development expenditure of RM3.08 billion, with the other 10 ministers sharing the rest.”

As Sarawak planning and resources minister, the report explained, Taib has ultimate control over the granting of logging concessions in Sarawak that are worth several billion US dollars.

“Already in the late 1980s, family members and clients loyal to Taib were estimated to control over 1.6 million hectares of timber concessions in Sarawak which constitute more than 10 percent of the total land mass of Sarawak”.

All in the family

The report also zoomed in on Taib’s modus operandi as to how these assets were transferred overseas to countries such as Canada (Sakto group of companies), US (Sakti Corporation and related companies), Australia (Sitehost Pty Ltd), UK (Ridgeford Properties), Hong Kong (Richfold Investment Ltd) and to a number of offshore finance centres, in particular the British Virgin Islands.

azlan“While the above-mentioned companies officially name Taib family members as their shareholders or directors, it is believed that many other companies are held through nominees.”

Individuals profiled in the extensive 45-page report include Taib’s brother Onn Mahmud, who is second richest family member with an estimated net worth of US$2 billion, while Taib’s eldest son, Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, a major player in the Sarawak construction, property and energy business, is ranked third at US$1.5 billion.

Next in line are Taib’s Canada-based socialite daughter Jamilah Taib Murray (US$1 billion), Taib’s brother and timber entrepreneur Tufail Mahmud (US$600 million), sister Raziah Mahmud (US$500 million), daughter Hanifah (US$400 million) and son Sulaiman (US$300 million).

Meanwhile, timber conglomerate Ta Ann founder and Sarawak Energy chairperson Hamed Sepawi, a first cousin of the chief minister, has an estimated wealth of US$175 million.

Faced with mounting criticism, Taib had last year took to the Internet to defend his family’s wealth.

NONEIn particular, Taib explained that his daughter Jamilah’s (right) business was initially funded from his income as a federal minister, which his daughter through her business acumen expanded into a global empire.

“Well, my children make money, yes, quite big. I don’t know whether what they said 100 million is correct… in Canada,” he said in a four-minute video posted on YouTube a month before the Sarawak state election last year.

“But it all started (when) I gave money to my daughter. I was resigning from the federal government. I got gratuity, I gave some money to her to start a new business, it thrived.

“It is a property development company. When our town was still small, they had foresight to buy pieces of land and sell them quickly,” he said.

BMF compares Taib’s family with the clans of former Indonesian president Suharto and former Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos – the two families had embezzled between US$15 billion and US$35 billion, and between US$20 billion and US$900 billion respectively.

“We believe our research is showing merely the tip of the iceberg as many (Taib) family assets are likely to be hidden overseas or in offshore districts where information is virtually impossible to obtain,” said the report.

“BMF is therefore calling on anti-corruption and anti-money-laundering authorities worldwide to investigate the Taib family’s business activities.”

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Ting Ho permalink
    September 20, 2012 1:14 am

    Dr Dzul:

    This is outrageous. How can such a greedy wicked robber, manipulator and exploiter of the wealth of all Sarawakians and other compatriots of Malaysia be allowed to continue ruling the state.

    Such abuses of power if the main cause of widespread poverty, neglect to provide for the basic needs of the impoverished natives, environmental degradation, corruption and backwardness.

    This report has to be widely shared to awaken the political consciousness of all concerned Malaysians. These so called leaders in BN are the worst thieves and the basest of all humankind; they have forfeited their rights to rule over us. We need to bring them down and purge them out of the body politic and possibly seek to recover this national wealth from him in accordance to international court of justice.

    Keep up the good work and bring such exposures to the court of world opinion. Malaysians are not to be taken for granted.

    Best regards,

    Ting Ho
    Sent via BlackBerry.

  2. September 20, 2012 3:10 am

    Clear example of how wealth is distributed among themselves.. this is not what Islam is about

  3. KL Man permalink
    September 20, 2012 5:13 am

    and we majority rakyat who struggle day and night to put a simple meal on the table for the whole family, should always be grateful to the leaders ?! please, dear powerful leaders, spare us the mental torture.

  4. September 20, 2012 5:23 am

    Taib is 70over and marries a young one. Can he service the workshop??
    If najib is not going to act on taibs corruption, we can be rest assured that its curtains down down down for najib as well as bn.
    bn get prepared for your downfall come ge13.
    I hope that ngos will expose all ministers billion dollar games.

  5. Robert Wong permalink
    September 20, 2012 5:37 am

    How on earth it is possible for a Malaysian politician and his family members to acquire so much wealth and exhibit such wealth without fear and yet want us, ordinary Malaysians especially Sarawakians, to believe that there are no corruptions or abuses in the country? This state chief minister and his allies in the federal government must be either mad or the citizens in this country are totally dumb, blind and plain stupid!
    Sarawakians, time to wake up now or if you wake up only after this state chief minister is gone, your pants may also be gone by then!

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