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The Ottawa Connection: Malaysian Timber Sultan's Secret Canada Assets Exposed

Sarawak top politician calls on Canadian authorities to investigate a multi-million Ottawa property empire linked to Chief Minister Taib Mahmud's family
OTTAWA, CANADA, June 18, 2010 --/WORLD-WIRE/-- A prominent Canadian developer, the Ottawa-based Sakto corporation, has been accused of administering a secret multi-million dollar property portfolio on behalf of the family of Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, head of government of the Malaysian state of Sarawak in Borneo. According to Sarawak Report, a political blog focussing on governance issues in Sarawak, the Taib family's Ottawa properties are estimated to be worth in excess of one hundred million Canadian dollars. They include twin glass towers, a shopping complex and a multi-storey residential building in downtown Ottawa. Several Ontario and Canadian government ministries are renting offices from Sakto, including the Ministry of the Ontario Attorney General.

Sakto is being run by Taib Mahmud's daughter, Jamilah Taib, and his son-in-law, Sean Murray. The corporation's roots go back to 1983 - two years after Taib came to power as Chief Minister - when it was set up by two of Taib's college-aged children and Onn Mahmud, one of Taib's brothers. Onn Mahmud has already been a central figure in a corruption scandal uncovered in 2007 by the Tokyo tax authorities. The scandal involved the payment of kickbacks by nine Japanese shipping companies in return for being allowed to carry timber from Sarawak to Japan.

Baru Bian, chairman of the Sarawak branch of the People's Justice Party, PKR, and one of the leaders of the opposition, said he was "shocked" to hear that Taib's family had amassed such a huge amount of wealth while the rural population in the state remained poor. "I really hope that the Canadian authorities will investigate this case and determine if Sakto is in breach of the Canadian laws", Baru said. He said he was currently trying to get hold of the evidence behind the news report in order to lodge a complaint with the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC).

Taib Mahmud is considered to be one of the main beneficiaries of the destruction of Sarawak's tropical rainforests during the last three decades. His extreme wealth contrasts with his humble origins and the poverty of the state's native communities. The Taib family's wealth can only be explained by a massive abuse of political power for personal gains.


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