PETALING JAYA: Canadian real estate company Sakto Corporation is turning its full legal attention to bringing Bruno Manser Fonds to trial for defamation.
In a press release today, the Ottawa-based company said it had filed its civil court proceedings against BMF with the Basel Civil Court in January this year, seeking to put an end to BMF’s active campaign against Sakto.
“Sakto is suing the Bruno Manser Fonds and its executive director Lukas Straumann for defamation. BMF has engaged in a campaign making unfounded allegations over the years and Sakto is taking serious legal action to stop them.
“Bruno Manser Fonds is also under criminal investigation. The Basel prosecutor’s office is investigating the campaign against Sakto.”
The statement said the criminal investigation against those responsible at BMF relates to alleged libel, false accusation, fraud and misappropriation of donated funds.
In February 2019, the court ruled an urgent injunction was not warranted, mostly due to the passage of time since BMF began its campaign some 10 years ago.
“Yesterday, the Basel Court of Appeal confirmed that decision. With this preliminary matter closed, Sakto can now focus on the main proceedings for a finding of defamation,” said Thomas Weibel, attorney-at-law and partner at Vischer in Switzerland.
“We look forward to bringing an end to Straumann’s admitted name-and-shame campaign, once and for all,” he said in the press release.
Sakto Corporation is owned by Malaysian-Canadian entrepreneur Jamilah Taib Murray and her husband Sean Murray.
Jamilah Taib Murray is the daughter of Abdul Taib Mahmud, the current governor of Sarawak, who served as the chief minister of the state from 1981 to 2014.
The Basel-based charity, named after missing Swiss rainforest advocate Bruno Manser, engages in rainforest protection and the rights of the indigenous peoples in Sarawak.
In the statement, Weibel said Lukas Straumann had already admitted in Canadian court proceedings that “he does not have reasonable grounds for his allegations”.
“Sakto has made it clear that the proceedings against BMF are intended to bring the public campaign to an end and to have the defamatory allegations against it retracted and deleted,” he said.
The statement said the clerk of the court, Benedikt Seiler, reviewed the BMF allegations, and confirmed that Sakto had the right to claim damages for defamation.
He stated that the burden of proof in the ongoing lawsuit is borne by the infringer, meaning that BMF must prove its allegations are true to avoid devastating damages.
“As part of the main proceedings, Sakto has invoked its statutory right to claim so-called ‘infringer’s profit’, i.e. the money that BMF raised in running their lengthy campaign at the expense of Sakto’s reputation.
“This will oblige BMF to account for the ways in which they raised money to finance their defamatory campaign,” the statement said.
It also said Sakto recently wrote to BMF’s board of directors to question the legitimacy and validity of the campaign against Sakto and its founders in Canada, asking about any measurable benefits to the indigenous tribes and the rainforests in Malaysia after Straumann’s decade-long effort.
Bruno Manser, in a statement yesterday, said Jamilah had attempted to provisionally ban 255 publications linking her, her closest family members and her Canadian companies to alleged money-laundering and corruption in Sarawak.
It said the court stated that Jamilah had filed her case far too late, nine years after her wealth was first publicly connected by the defendants to alleged wrongdoings by her father in Sarawak.