Hornbill Unleashed

June 17, 2010

TAIBS’ FOREIGN PROPERTY PORTFOLIO

Canadian properties worth in excess of a hundred million dollars

Twin glass towers and a swish shopping complex at Preston Square in downtown Ottawa form just part of an enormous foreign property portfolio controlled in Canada by the family of Sarawak Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud, according to our exclusive investigations.

These buildings alone are worth at least one hundred million dollars and generate a healthy rental income from some of Canada’s top corporations, including Xerox, Adobe and Sun Life, who rent office space and retail outlets.  Numerous Canadian Government Ministries are also listed at the building.

The Preston Square development lies at the centre of the major Canadian property empire run by the developer Sakto, which was founded in the early 1980s by Taib’s college-aged son Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, his daughter Jamilah and his brother Onn Mahmud.  It continues to be managed as a ‘family business’ by his now son-in-law, a Canadian, Sean Murray.

Taxpayers in Sarawak are entitled to ask how the Chief Minister’s modest 20,000 Malaysian Ringgit a month official salary has managed to help generate a property empire worth so much.  It is also well known that the Taib family own further considerable assets in Malaysia and elsewhere.

Dozens more buildings in Canada alone

Adjacent to the Preston Square commercial complex, Sarawak Report has  further identified a luxury, multi-story residential building, also constructed by the Taibs and let for rent since 2006.  The family have named the building The Adelaide, an Australian city popular with Taib Mahmud and his late wife Laila.

Sakto publicity boasts that these  ”stylish urban rentals are lavishly equipped” with ”all the elements of contemporary flair” and assure clients that ”all units share the ease of abundant parking and the beauty of Preston’s Square manicured setting”.

Arrogant Admission

We bring these revelations in the wake of the elderly Chief Minister’s admission last week that the Bumi remain ”poor and in difficulty”.  In this way, he explained, they can be relied upon tostay ”humble” and continue to vote for Barisan National (BN) at the next election.  Many in Sarawak have questioned why the Chief Minister has done so little to improve the lives of his people during his thirty years in power and where the profits of decades of timber and oil extraction have been spent.  Sarawak is Malaysia’s richest state in terms of natural resources and yet remains home to some of its poorest people.

Exclusive revelations show Canadian Government and top corporations rent from the Taibs

Sakto Development Corporation was set up in August 1983, according to official Ontario records, two years after Taib Mahmud took power.  The Directors were Taib’s brother, Onn Mahmud, Taib’s son Mahmud Abu Bekir (aged just 20) and Taib’s daughter Jamilah, both still students.  Three months later Onn also established Richfold Investment Limited in Hong Kong.  He did so on the same day that another company, Regent Star Company Limited, was incorporated with a mutual director, Kin Kwok Shea, at the same office address.  It was Regent Star Company which was identified by the Japanese Tax Authorities in 2007 as having received 32 million Malaysian Ringgit in kickbacks from Japanese timber exporters over the preceding seven years covered by their investigation. The   Japanese shipping cartel is known to have been making such payments since the early 1980s, amounting to a total of hundreds of millions of ringgit.

Impressive Investments

Sakto publicity claimed the company invested heavily in its first year(1983), “acquiring over 400 residential units” according to its previous website.

Financial records also show that the company invested over $7 million Canadian Dollars during the first twelve months of its activities, $4.5 million of which was raised from its shareholders. In Canada shareholders are allowed to remain anonymous.  By the end of its first decade (in 1993) Sakto’s Financial Report shows the company had assets of just under $40 million Canadian Dollars.  Those acquisitions were backed by over $25 million in interest-free shareholder loans, for which “repayment terms had not been established”.  Additionally, Sakto had received a further $3 million in non-interest bearing loans, $1.5 million of which was “payable to a company related to a shareholder”.   Among the developments Sakto invested in was the construction of what the company described as a “Class A Office Tower”, completed on schedule and within budget in November 1989.  Known as 333 Preston Street, this building houses the company’s current headquarters.  In all but one of those years the company was declaring a loss and not paying taxes.

During the 1990s, the company claims it ”continued shaping [its] property portfolio through acquisitions and disposals of various assets” and since 2000 it has been involved in some of Ottawa’s biggest property deals.  These  included the news making purchase of over a quarter of a million square feet of commercial space in the flourishing high-tech business district of Kanata and other buildings for over $31 million Canadian Dollars.   Much of this property was later sold on to a ’nominee’ company,  however Sakto continues to lease and manage the buildings, apparently on behalf of the new purchasers.

The company has recently completed the building of a second phase of its Preston Street Commerce Plaza complex, which includes a second 16 story tower block and a large commercial centre.  The Sakto website boasts that the centre represents “the very definition of Class A business space”.

Sean Murray, the current Director of Sakto, is a Canadian of Irish Catholic extraction.  Records show he became involved in Sakto’s affairs in 1987, having reportedly met Jamilah Taib at University.  After marrying Jamilah, a process that involved his conversion to Islam, Sean Murray took over as a Director of a number of the Taib property interests, however there is no indication that he has become an actual shareholder.  Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib ceased to be listed as a Director of Sakto some years ago, however Onn Mahmud, Taib’s brother only resigned as a Director in 2004.

Society Family

A number of Sean Murray’s family members are now employed at Sakto, which they describe as a family business. Some of Canada’s biggest commercial names rent space at their commercial and office properties, as well as numerous  Canadian Government Ministries.   Now prominent members

of Ottawa’s social elite, Sean Murray and Jamilah Taib are frequently photographed at society occasions and listed as  donors to the city’s National Gallery of Canada.  Functions at their lavish Rockcliffe mansion have included fundraisers for the top Canadian school, Ashbury College and for multiple Irish charities, including the Catholic St Patrick’s Home and the Ireland Fund of Canada.

The couple drew considerable attention when they recently moved into their new house, recorded as being the second most expensive private home in Ottawa and costing them over $9.6 million Canadian Dollars. Guests have been known to joke that it is so vast that different wings must have different post codes.

Political Connections

The couple, separately and through Sakto, have also been regular donors to the Ontario Liberal Party.  This has included contributions totalling $6,000 to Premiere Dalton Mcguinty’s  campaign budget in 2003.  In 2007 it was announced that eleven Ontario Ministries were relocating into Sakto’s Preston Square building.  ”Bringing together 11 ministries at Preston Square, in the heart of our community, will make our government more accessible to the people of Ottawa and more cost-effective”, explained Yasir Naqvi, MPP for Ottawa Centre.  The offices were officially opened by Dalton Mcguinty himself in April 2008.

From trees to tower blocks

Sarawak Report’s exclusive revelations are likely to draw fierce criticism from Canadian environmentalists and human rights campaigners, who have highlighted the devastation caused by unsustainable logging in Sarawak.  Over US$25 billion worth of timber has been exported from the state as a result of the rampant, unsustainable logging promoted by Taib Mahmud and the former Chief Minister, who was his uncle.  Less than 3% of the original rainforest remains and many of its indigenous peoples are now destitute as a direct result.

What is now clear is that Sakto’s position as one of Canada’s top development companies is closely linked to the Taib family’s questionable wealth and to tropical rainforest devastation.  Canada’s booming property market of past years has exponentially increased the value of those investments, leaving the Taibs (but not the people of Sarawak) even more fabulously wealthy than before.

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18 Comments »

  1. I really enjoyed reading your blog post here. It was very informative and I also digg the way you write! Keep it up and I’ll be back to read more in the future.

    thank you
    online degree articles, tips & tutorial

    Comment by dgreatblog — July 10, 2010 @ 12:19 AM | Reply

  2. [...] this plundering.  My hunch is that this is all old news to Sarawakians. Everybody knows what Taib has stolen, and nobody feels he or she can do anything about it.  Why bother eating ones heart, [...]

    Pingback by Only Connect . . . « Hornbill Unleashed — June 27, 2010 @ 12:01 AM | Reply

  3. sama2 kita hebahkan maklumat ni dalam facebook… :)

    Comment by rieduan — June 18, 2010 @ 7:39 PM | Reply

  4. Pakatan should prepare reports cards for all the constituencies under BN for the last 6 Malaysia Plans. That’s right over the past 30 years on what had been promised by UMNO controlled BN Sarawak and what have not been delivered. Total up all the rural development allocations from 3MP to 9MP and get Taib Mahmud to explain why these development fund did not reach their intended targets.

    Pakatan Rakyat will need all the volunteers they can get in the coming State Election. We shall not only rally behind Pakatan but also contribute financially and volunteer ourselves as election workers and helping in the campaign, providing logistic and catching the cheaters in BN.While BN shall have the police, special branch and SPR working for them, the people shall be the “special branch” for Pakatan. We shall take the battle from the urban seats to the last frontiers in all the remote and interior Sarawak. Sarawak4Change. Sarawak4PR.

    Comment by Mata Kuching — June 18, 2010 @ 3:04 PM | Reply

  5. long life for taib..i love taib..
    lets make all the srwk people live in poor…

    30 years of money maker..

    wtf..

    Comment by anak swrk — June 18, 2010 @ 10:54 AM | Reply

    • Sure, Long Live Taib! Lord of the Penans!

      Comment by Watcha — June 18, 2010 @ 6:39 PM | Reply

  6. I wonder where these displaced indegenious people and their families live when the Bakun Dam was built.

    Don’t tell me they have been transferred to stay in the many complexes in Canada.

    Please tell me that they also have the right to vote in the coming Sarawakian polls.

    Comment by A Dreamer Too — June 17, 2010 @ 9:38 PM | Reply

  7. Jabu says that Taib is clean because everything in Sarawak belong to Taib. Sarawkians can go eat tree barks and roots for all he cares.

    Comment by apaijugah — June 17, 2010 @ 8:30 PM | Reply

  8. More about Taib Mahmud from Asia Sentinel! 15th August 2007

    Written by Our Correspondent
    Wednesday, 15 August 2007
    Sarawak’s politically motivated Bakun Dam has a new Australian friend to help keep it going

    The resuscitation of the controversial Bakun Dam as the result of an agreement to build a nearby aluminum smelter is the latest chapter in a long running saga to push forward the environmentally sensitive project closely linked to the longstanding Sarawak chief minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud, and his family.

    The mammoth dam, one of the cherished mega-projects of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad, has already wiped out 23,000 hectares of virgin rainforest, delivered the timber into the hands of timber barons and displaced 9,000 indigenous people. It is also a textbook example of how the New Economic Policy, Malaysia’s affirmative action program to improve the economic wellbeing of its bumiputera, or ethnic Malay majority, instead concentrates riches in a few hands.

    read full article here :- http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?Itemid=178&id=637&option=com_content&task=view

    Comment by Mata Kuching — June 17, 2010 @ 6:46 PM | Reply

  9. It will not matter when Taib announces the date of dissolution of DUN and the date for polling. Malaysians in Sarawak are ever ready for CHANGE of government. Taib’s bomoh says October 02 2010 is a good day.

    Pakatan Rakyat is finalising the selection of candidates and PR machinery have been deployed especially in the rural constituencies.

    What is more important is that the majority of Sarawakians are ready4change. Many of PBB strong seats are becoming suspect and weakening. SUPP may see a total annihilation. More Ibans and Bidayuhs are warming up to the two party system of government and ready4change.

    People’s power will decide. Sarawak Ready4Change.

    Comment by Mata Kuching — June 17, 2010 @ 2:18 PM | Reply

    • October 2 is good.

      By October 10, we’ll have to start on more work!

      1010 is good omen! My bomoh feeling says its good – 10 10 2010 !

      That’s working on 2 fingers, almost. That means we’ll be thinking like computers! With a little touch of superstition! ;)

      Any date is good for PR! Each one of us will have to adopt a PR branch to work with from amongst the PKR, DAP and PAS branches! I have one in mind but those guys are really slow, lah! :D

      Call friends from Malaya, Sabah. They’ll come and return the favor if you did one for them! :D

      Comment by Watcha — June 17, 2010 @ 8:09 PM | Reply

  10. Hundred millions? you must be kidding. By rough estimate, it is well in excess of 1 billion and that’s in US$ my friend. And you can bet that 100% is from corruption. He steals our money and then park them overseas so Sarawakians don’t even have a taste of the crumbs of our own money. His children give some to charity so that they can get “respectable” with their pictures and names mentioned in the social pages of their adopted countries. They give generously to the rich Mat Sallehs but they don’t give anything to the very people whom they stole the money from.

    Comment by Ah Beng — June 17, 2010 @ 1:33 PM | Reply

    • Even 1 Bil is not much these days but including the special block of crude from Petronas at special price, its stupendous!

      Nothing less than 10 Bil, whatever currency!

      Comment by Watcha — June 17, 2010 @ 8:20 PM | Reply

  11. Excellent investigative reporting by Sarawak report.

    It’s sad to note that all these years, Sarawakians were robbed by the power-that-be.

    Now it’s time to rise up to say ‘No’ to corruption in the next state election.

    Vote for a clean, capable, corrupt-free, accountable and just government.

    We trust the Sarawakians will lead us to a better Malaysia !

    Comment by PH Chin — June 17, 2010 @ 1:25 PM | Reply

  12. There is no difference between UMNO & PKR (Pakatan). They are from the same hole. The only way forward is for the people to change the the way we think & act. It will take time but i hope it will not be too late.

    Banu.

    Comment by svmbanu — June 17, 2010 @ 10:08 AM | Reply

  13. Taib family is one of the richest in the world !

    But the natives of sarawak ? Poor and deprived.

    We hope that the natives of sarawak can vote for CHANGE for this very simple reason.

    Comment by Jasmine sarawak — June 17, 2010 @ 10:02 AM | Reply

    • That’s where youre not right. Taib is the richest Penan in the Milkyway, the Universe! Melanaus are Penans. So don’t look down on Penans. This one is super-duper Lord of the Penans!

      Comment by Watcha — June 17, 2010 @ 10:15 PM | Reply

  14. Taib’s family also owns the Adelaide Hilton Hotel and he once told his close buddies that he bought the Adelaide Hilton because of sentimental reason as he received his law degree in University of Adelaide. Sakto Corporation was set up in the 1980’s in the style of Singapore’s Temasek. The national joke was that each time the anti graft officers knocked on his door, they were greeted by a few bags with few million ringgit inside with a note attached which reads ” Take this bags and walk away”.

    The only way Malaysians will be able to nail these batards and “nationalise” the ill-gotten gains and assets of all the corrupted warlords in UMNO controlled BN is to vote for Pakatan Rakyat in the GE13 and freeze all their assets and that of their families globally. All these money and assets belong to all Malaysians.

    Comment by Mata Kuching — June 17, 2010 @ 9:25 AM | Reply


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