Taib-linked firm wants BMF statements removed from public domain

PETALING JAYA: A Canadian real estate firm allegedly linked to Sarawak governor Taib Mahmud has applied to the Basel Civil Court for an injunction against Swiss NGO Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) to remove from the public domain a series of statements and allegations relating to the company.

Sakto Corporation said the injunction seeks the removal of over 1,100 “infringing statements” and more than 250 publications.

In a statement today, it said the injunction also seeks to prevent BMF from repeating the purportedly defamatory comments.

This is the latest turn of events in BMF’s campaign against Sakto, which was incorporated in 1983 by Taib’s daughter, Jamilah Taib Murray, with a gift from her father as initial capital.

It has been under fire by BMF and Malaysian conservation activists in Toronto who claim that the firm may have accumulated its wealth partly by laundering money from corruption in the Sarawak logging industry.

Sakto was recently valued at US$250 million.

The allegations are unproven in court, with both Sakto and Jamilah denying the claims.

Sakto said today that BMF’s campaign had created a “wrong” impression of the firm which was damaging its business and reputation.

Adding that it had endured the NGO’s “unfounded accusations” since 2010, it said the application for injunction relief was the first step in the company’s legal action to re-establish the facts and restore its reputation.

“The facts matter. An NGO should not be beyond the law and must be accountable for their words and actions,” lawyer Thomas Weibal said in the statement.

“Sakto simply wishes for BMF to remove their false and defamatory allegations from the public domain, and to stop their misguided campaign.”

BMF has reportedly filed and sent 11 complaints and letters across six jurisdictions since 2010.

Just this year, Weibal noted, the Canadian Department of Justice had issued a cease and desist letter to prevent BMF from continuing to spread statements that the country had agreed to its allegations.

“What BMF and its executive director Lukas Straumann want to believe is their private matter,” he said.

“However, it is unacceptable to publicly repeat their untruthful theories about Sakto and to present them as facts. Their actions are unlawful and seriously violate the personal rights of Sakto and its principals.”