Australia Challenged To Investigate Ta Ann’s Investment In Tasmania

Australia Challenged To Investigate Ta Ann’s Investment In Tasmania

27 Sep 2011

This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified), Iban, Malay

Corruption in Sarawak has become a live issue in Tasmania

The leader of the Australian Green Party, Senator Bob Brown, has invited the Editor of Sarawak Report to Hobart, in order to speak about corruption in Sarawak this week.

The senator is a representative from Tasmania, where the Taib-linked company Ta Ann is involved in controversial logging operations.

At a press conference this morning reporters were given copies of a recent letter sent to the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, asking for Taib family assets to be frozen in Australia and for a money laundering investigation.

“We are very concerned that the Taib family might have laundered and reinvested large corruption proceeds in Australia, namely through Taib’s brother, Onn Mahmud, his Australian-born brother-in-law, Robert Geneid, and his cousin, Abdul Hamed Sepawi, who is married to an Australian national and is living in Australia” the letter reads.

 “…..We are thus formally asking the Australian government to launch an investigation into the activities of the Malaysian potentate Abdul Taib Mahmud, as well as his family members and associates, in Australia and to freeze all Taib assets in Australia for later restitution to the people of Sarawak”

The letter was signed by PKR leader Baru Bian, the Director of the Bruno Manser Foundation and the Editor of Sarawak Report.

Gillard is yet to respond and this is the first time that the letter, has been made public.   However, the Swiss and German governments have already responded positively to similar requests and have launched money laundering investigations into Taib assets in their jurisdictions.

Time to freeze Taib family assets

Senator Bob Brown has asked for an investigation

The Editor of Sarawak Report explained to the Australian reporters that there is now clear and concrete evidence of massive abuses of political power in Sarawak, with the Chief Minister using his monopoly over the key offices of State to channel billions of ringgit of public assets into his own private family firms.

When Ta Ann first became established in Australia this situation might not yet have been fully documented, but now the evidence is available Senator Bob Brown urged that there should be an immediate review of the situation and the suitability of Ta Ann as an investor.

The Executive Chairman and largest shareholder of Ta Ann, Hamed Sepawi, is the Chief Minister’s own cousin and a well-known beneficiary of Taib’s largesse.  His companies have received hundreds of thousands of hectares of timber and plantation concessions, as well as numerous state construction contracts, mainly handed to Naim Cendera, another company of which he is Chairman and major shareholder.

All were handed out by the Chief Minister, by-passing any proper tendering process.

The concern is that Ta Ann’s operations in Tasmania are being funded through the money laundering of illegal profits made in the State of Sarawak” SR told reporters.

Criminally corrupt

Sepawi portrayed in Ta Ann company literature - but his 'tree hugging' credentials are doubtful

Ta Ann Tasmania, a subsidiary of the main company of which Sepawi is a 22% shareholder, has sought to distance itself from the controversies surrounding the land grabs in Sarawak and claims that, since it is not directly involved in logging in Tasmania, its operations should not be targeted.

Instead, Ta Ann relies on wood that is logged on its behalf to produce veneers at its manufacturing plants.

However, Ta Ann Tasmania now needs to show that the resources it has used to set up operations in Australia are not the proceeds from the blatant corruption that has favoured its parent company in Malaysia.

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  • aborium

    The investigations by KL into the alleged timber corruption and money laundering activities by Taib and his cronies may have started many years ago. But the 'wait and see' stance of KL to initiate legal proceedings against him due to political indebtedness or expediency is no longer tenable – not in the current political scenario. It may just backfire.

    This 'political protection' has led them to believe that they're beyond reproach and untouchable. It is this protection that has made them to become bold and arrogant over the years.

    They'd like to think that Sarawak's rich resources should rightly belong to them and to be dispensed at their pleasure because they hold the political and financial power in the State. And State administrators have little or no choice in the matter but to listen to their political masters. Sad, but true.

    In other words, they're holding Sarawak and its people at ransom! How long more this will last is anyone's guess. But the signs are that the closure to this dark episode in Sarawak's history is more likely to end in a bang than a whimper.

    Australia, help us out to cut off their financial arteries, one by one – that's where it's going to hurt most. Nothing personal, it's just another financial matter that needs ironing out.

    • i agree

      i agree..if KL were to really take action things would not be as complicated as today..the "white rajah's" influences are too deep within the the KL system that taking him out will bring more problems to KL..the MACC is directly under the is a matter of him to give the word and Taib is out for good..unfortunately for the Sarawak people this is "a dream that will never come true"..

      • anak sarawak

        They are in the same boat! They are brothers.

  • Neutral

    I have faith in Australian govt doing the investigation without fear & favor. Just wait & see.

    Julia G, prove to the world that your govt does not condone corruption inside & outside of your country.

  • Watch Dog

    Please go ahead Aussies.Our hearts and souls are with us O'Lord..Amen

  • Sarawakian

    Please take action now freeze all his and his family asset and money …. dont let him have time to move his assest and money to other country.

    Australia, please help and act fast too

    Million thanks


  • najibrazak

    This could be awkward for us as Australia is a regional power which can affect us directly, unlike the former colonialists in London.

  • Blunt Speaker

    I want all these countries like Switzerland, Germany, US, Canada, Australia, Lebanon and the carribean to freeze all his families' assets! Also, come this GE 13, let's vote for a new GOVT and freeze all his families' assets in Sarawak! Then all these should be returned to better develop Sarawak and improve the livelihood of every citizen!

  • bucklynn rimbar

    let's see the outcome and wat will much talk but no many reports,police reports,macc reports, sarawak report but reports are report,unless directives are given to take action on the matter.and we know directives are from above,so its a report well done but wat next.

    we seen so many reports here and there but to put the foot down to see justice done for everyone affected.its a far cry….lets see,if nothing is done then its jus a report.

  • bucklynn rimbar

    based on these reports n others report no action are taken, seems like they re mere hearsay.incomplete documentary evidence.jus like any reports but to create a prima facie case.its like putting hamid on a witchhunt,since he is taib cousin n made a lot of bucks,he shud be fried.

    pls Aborium,do sumthing more to convince us that its the truth the whole truth.based on such reports, seriously they cannot hold water,u read law,u know wat's required to convict a person of such crimnal act,if not noone will take or act on ur reports.

    to report on sarawak affair why do we go all over the world jus to put taib n family on a witchhunt.can we jus focus on sarawak issues,how we get the gung of corruption out of sarawak.

    u mus remember dat sarawak is part of malaysia,n within the control of the federal foreign government will want to muddle in the issues as it pertain to international law n we hav the international convention n other treaties on international relation.

    i m not trying to put s.r down or trying to win taib heart,i don hav to but make the reports more credible with intensive research.

    at this moment this report n sum others are jus a slagging taib n crony report amounting to hearsay.nothing is done or its shall not be taken seriously.the reports are incomplete to warrant action.

    for truth to prevail,it must be beyond reasonable doubt n yes u guys may say we hav enuf evidence n its true,yes but not enuf to warrant action.if u wan to kill a wild boar,u cannot used pellets,used a buck shot.same here.

    jaganlah marah jus cakap aje.

    • aborium

      Some people may want to call it witch hunt, but a forensic accountant may think of it as a paper trail. So let the papers do the talking this time round. Just like a photograph that says a thousand words.

  • Kraft of Pristine Va

    You have to be joking!! You don't launder money by building factories, employing people and paying wages. This Senator Brown is becoming increasingly desperate for publicity as he attempts to close down the Tasmanian sustainable forest industry.

    Today he complained that "After a zero-coverage press conference by Ta Ann critic, British journalist Clare Rewcastle, in Hobart this week, today's Mercury has a lead letter from Ta Ann attacking Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown" for a misleading and untruthful advertisement.

    The advertisement for Clare's talk and film night featured an orangutan at feeding time at a wildlife sanctuary last year, and a logtruck owned by another company, that was photoshopped from a greenpeace website. absolutely no evidence at all about Ta Ann.


  • bucklynn rimbar

    pls lah bro,more research rather then jus paper jus sensational journalism,or we are not getting the correct report.

    how come s.r don do the corruption on the kampong road,wer the contractor absconded with the mony or how the kampong folk feels due to the corrupt government.more reports on the aftermath of the b.n victory n how badly they performed.cover the whole of sarawak.i m sure s.r can get stringers to do n cover these reports on the state of affair in sarawak.

    for now its jus taib n family n d ill gotten gain ect ect but how are the people feeling on the ground.or wat people are doin n feeling about every issues they faced,then s.r is actually doing report on sarawak and should be call sarawak report,but for now s.r is akin to report only on taib n family affairs n alledge corruption n mony laundering.hence should be call taib report,t.r or anti taib report,a.t.r.

    jus kidding but its true,its shuld cover all of sarawak affairs not jus taib this and taib dat,his cousin hamid this and dat or d son this and dat.

    its should cover sarawak issues and how we can make sarawak a better place and solutions dat sarawakians can look forward to.

    don hate for hate sack,more hate will beget more hate,let us see more constructive reports on how poor the people are and how the school children hav to walk miles jus to go to the nearest school or how poor and marginalized the poor padi farmers are or the culture shock of the penan due to loggings and the aftermath of the bakun n murum dams or damned.

    really guys,lets not cause more damage to sarawak then it already hav.

    peace yo dude no offence jus speaking my mind.

  • Joanna Pinkiewicz

    I'm from Tasmania, where TA ANN has been allowed to operate and has contracts to use our native forest timber to make veneer. I'm looking forward to know more why and how this company was allowed to be here and what the Australian Government will do in regard to the corrupted company.

    We are at present fighting to protect 520.000h of our native forests. The state is divided in opinion on logging in native forests. We have had some obvious governmental corruption but nothing to the extend of what is happening in Sarawak.

    I deeply feel for the native people of Sarawak.

    The more we know about TA ANN here, the more we can do to stop it from destroying more of the natural environment.

    Lets be greatful, that SR has opened that road of information, we can share it and contribute to it. We can all do something.

    • bucklynn rimbar

      Dear J.P,u re right in wanting to take care of ur land,likewise we in sarawak,but we also don wan others to think dat we sarawakians are bunch of fools who do nothing to stop corruption in sarawak dat we hav to seek help from,the U.S or the british or the aussie.

      i beliv dat there an abuse of power,but no countries in the world can say,it don happen there.its a global mankind issue since time immemorial.

      as for now,we sarawakians wans to unite to build our state n nation of tis election sarawak n sabah wil export more to the federal legislature to ensure dat we get our fair share from the federal government.can we be independent,why take the risk.

      so u do wat u can for ur state in aussie land,we do wat we can in sarawak for tis juncture,our voters hav voted n few voices of opposition but our government is far not court cases questioning the legitimacy.(what can anyone say,majority hav voted)

      dats our standing,yes many accusation on our c.m but hate him or wat not,he is there,people put him there.

      s.r only do report on him n family but more can be done on the ground to show how the people on the ground are feeling,if not s,r is jus blowing hot one on the ground are us readers more report on the ground pls s.r.hence ur title sarawak its taib report.

      more reports on the ground,get watchdog to help.

      aborium,jangan marah,can u see my point.

      wats ur point?????

  • Kraft of Pristine va

    Is awaiting moderation a euphemism for censorship, as newer posts have been published?

    Is it because of the links in my post No. 9 that expose how the Sarawak report editor’s talk and film night was advertised in Tasmania as the Greenpeace caption of the modified photo states “A Penan man watches a passing Shin Yang Timber truck loaded with logs, Malaysia” and the one featuring the orang-utan “Sarawak, Orangutan Feeding time at Semonggoh Orangutan Nature Reserve.”

    An easy investigation is able to find that the first photo was taken by Dang NGO, who state “‘Penan leader confronts a logging truck. Limbang District, Sarawak, Malaysia”

    But if you publish these links it would expose your story on Kevin Rudd and Tasmanian Minister Bryan Green as nothing more than a sensational beat up.

    No wonder you only publish posts from cheer leading groups like “Code Green” and the Huon valley Environment Centre. Or are you willing to hold up ethical standards of free speech, balance and being fair, even to your critics?