The company Miracle Harvest Sdn Bhd, belonging to Raziah Mahmud, the sister of the Chief Minister, and her husband Robert Geneid, has certainly yielded some miraculous profits. They are particularly miraculous because the company has not yet started officially operating, according to Malaysia’s Register of Companies!
Like so many of Razia’s land companies, Miracle Harvest, incorporated 15th June 2005, uses the business address of Kumpulan Parabena Sdn Bhd. Kumpulan Parabena is run by the Geneids and we have revealed that the Chief Minister also holds a substantial stake through the holding company Mesti Bersatu. According to our researches the land titles which have been recently awarded to list of different companies based at this address amount to an area greater than Singapore!
In the case of Miracle Harvest, the approval had already been given by the Land Regsitry for an award to the company of 12,000 hectares for the purpose of oil palm plantation (OPL) three weeks before its actual incorporation date! Land titles handed out to a company before it even comes into existence! A case of ’Miraculous Pre-conception’?
So, can one detect the Hand of God behind such amazing developments, or perhaps just that of Abdul Taib Mahmud, who doubles up as the Head of the Land Custody and Development Agency? The LCDA has been taking Native Customary Lands in the name of the State Government and then handing it to close Taib family members like his sister Raziah and son Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib and several others in a pattern that has been escalating in recent years.
Land Registry Records
We can see that in the case of Miracle Harvest Raziah’s husband Robert Geneid is clearly marked as the contact for the Land Title in the Land Registry. He also lists his office and phone number as that of the Kumpulan Parabena HQ in Kuching, thus directly implicating the Chief Minister in the deal, who has a major stake in Kumpulan Parabena.
Cheap premiums mean the state loses revenue
Our research indicates that the land given to Miracle Harvest was indeed handed out very cheap indeed and now commands a far higher market price. A total of 11 lots were handed to Miracle Havest along with a sister company also owned by the Geneids, Green Ace Resources, on just one day 25.5.2005. They amounted to 20,000 hectares for an over all price of just RM 15 million. The stated purpose for the hand out is”OPL”, meaning Oil Plantation.
This low premium marked a very poor return for the taxpayer and a vast potential profit for the Mahmuds. Worse, such premiums are generally not demanded up front of Taib family members in deals like these. The payments are allowed to be deferred and delayed or paid in installments – usually (according to insiders) until the land has been sold on at a healthy profit!
However, the ownership quickly moved on from the Mahmuds of course. In 2006 the publicly-listed palm oil plantation company Kwantas announced that it had acquired 70% of the shares of Miracle Harvest (MHSB), along 70% of the sister company Green Ace Resources, which is also registered under the Kumpulan Parabena address. It can only be as part of the same set of deals that Green Ace Resources (GARSB) was handed a huge area of 7,000 hectares in Mukah in the region of the Sungai Narub Reserve Forest on the very same day in 2005 that Miracle Harvest gained its own land titles.
Kwantas announced it had payed around RM 17million for the 70% purchase of these two companies, whereas the original premium for the entire amount charged earlier from Parabena was circa RM 15 million.
Sarawak Report would therefore like to ask who Kwantas paid for the acquisition which was made several months after Miracle Harvest/Green Ace acquired the Land Titles? Was it Miracle Harvest, which was still not yet officially operating, according to the Company Register? We also ask why it is that, although Kwantas had acquired most of the shares of the company, Miracle Harvest continues to be based at the Parabena Office and is represented by Robert Geneid?
Up for sale!
We can now reveal that Kwantas has just started to dispose of its shareholdings in these land titles, giving us a good view of the genuine current market price! The State of Sarawak originally received just RM 5 million for the 7,000 hectares of land awarded to Green Ace Resources, yet last month Kwantas announced an agreement to sell its 70% stake for a whopping RM 32.4 million! This means that the 30% of the shares still held by the Geneids are worth roughly half that amount – the same that was charged for the entire 20,000 hectares property portfolio handed to them by Raziah’s brother and business partner, Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, in 2005.
The real miracle would be if Raziah and Robert failed to cash in on their back-breaking efforts!
Of equal concern is the status of this land which is being sold on. The Kwantas statement makes clear that the land lease is still provisional. This means that officially some further agreement is needed before oil palm clearances can begin.
In practice the ‘provisional’ aspect of such licences are frequently and disgracefully brushed aside in Sarawak, as plantation companies simply ignore the existence of Native Customary Rights of the communities whose land they take.
Given they have paid so much money to the Head of Government’s relatives to get it their attitude is perhaps understandable? Certainly, in a recent court case the judge laid the blame for a similar situation on the state government for handing out NCR land rather than on the company that had bought the titles. It is likely that as the number of native land rights succeeding in the courts increase that platation companies will be less willing to buy such plots from Taib’s many relatives!
So what is the problem with Lot 1 Block 194 Oya-Dalat Land District at Sungai Narub, Mukah? Is it disputed Native Customary Rights Land? is it part of the Sungai Narub Reserve Forest? Or could it be both?
The company to whom this land is being sold is the massive Golden Agri Resources Sdn Bhd, which is the Indonesian Oil Palm arm of the notorious timber giant Sinar Mas.
Golden Agri made a major ‘Green PR’ gesture earlier this month, Feb 9th, when it announced to the world that it will in future stop all further deforestation in Indonesia. Can we be reassured that Raziah and Robert’s miracle Company will miraculously manage to fulfil the new-found green and ethical credentials of their new buyer as this sale proceeds?