PETALING JAYA: Swiss NGO Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) today hailed the claim by a global coalition of NGOs that the Canadian government is breaking international rules to protect a real estate firm allegedly linked to Sarawak governor Taib Mahmud from public scrutiny.
BMF said Amsterdam-based OECD Watch had written to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) secretary-general Angel Gurria about Canada’s purported failure to hold Sakto Corporation accountable.
It said this followed a “cease and desist” letter from the Canadian Department of Justice to BMF and OECD Watch, asking the organisations to pull a Canadian government assessment on Sakto from their websites.
The assessment had reportedly concluded in October 2016 that a complaint under OECD rules against Ottawa-based Sakto was “material and substantiated”.
In a statement, BMF claimed the Canadian government had backtracked due to Sakto’s “aggressive challenge” of its jurisdiction and legal challenges submitted to Canada’s deputy minister of justice.
The NGO said OECD Watch coordinator Joseph Wilde-Ramsing had subsequently accused the Canadian government of “making a mockery of OECD guidelines”, which is a set of standards for multinational enterprises which OECD member states have committed to enforcing in their jurisdictions.
“The Bruno Manser Fund welcomes OECD Watch’s letter and condemns the Canadian government for protecting a Malaysian kleptocrat instead of enforcing OECD rules,” it said.
Sakto was incorporated in 1983 by Jamilah Taib Murray, the daughter of Taib, with a gift from her father as initial capital.
BMF and Malaysian conservation activists in Toronto claim that Sakto, which is currently valued at US$250 million, may have accumulated its wealth partly by laundering money from corruption in the Sarawak logging industry.
The allegations however are unproven in court, with both Sakto and Jamilah denying the claims.