Swiss group to release damning new book on Sarawak governor Taib

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A new book accusing Sarawak Yang di-Pertua Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud of environmental crimes and his family of amassing wealth from deforestation will be launched in Japan on November 3, said Swiss-based rainforest advocacy group, Bruno Manser Fund (BMF).

"Money Logging: On the Trail of the Asian Timber Mafia", authored by BMF executive director Lukas Straumann, contains details of how Taib, who was the chief minister of Sarawak for 33 years until he stepped down this year, allegedly amassed profits of up to US$15 billion with the complicity of global financial institutions.

BMF in a statement said Straumann's book tells the story of those "who lost their ancient paradise to a 'wasteland of oil palm plantation, pollution and corruption - and how they hope to get it back".

It said the book would rock "Malaysia's corridors of power" as it investigates what former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called "probably the biggest environmental crime of our times", in relation to the massive destruction of the Borneo rainforest by Malaysian loggers.

Brown's sister-in-law, Clare Rewcastle Brown, manages the Sarawak Report blog, which actively campaigns against the state's deforestation and has in the past documented Taib and his family’s alleged extraordinary wealth.

Straumann approached those who lost their homes in the forests and "criminals" who earned billions through illegal timber sales and corruption.

The book's launching coincides with the 50th session of the International Tropical Timber Council in Yokohama, Japan, on November 3.

BMF had earlier estimated Taib's worth at US$15 billion (RM46 billion), and said 20 of his family members had a collective wealth of US$21 billion (RM64 billion).

Not long ago, a secret investigation by international NGO, Global Witness, has implicated Taib with involvement in corruption, land seizure and tax evasion.

In February  this year, BMF lodged a police report against Taib's family for laundering timber corruption proceeds in Canada.

It said the report with the Canadian police was based on "new evidence" which apparently proves a financial link between Richfold Investments Ltd in Hong Kong and Sakto Development Corporation in Ottawa, Canada.

Sakto Development Corporation is a multi-million-dollar developer run by Taib's daughter, Jamilah Taib Murray.

Six months ago, several local NGOs and opposition parties ran an unsuccessful campaign against Taib's appointment as the Yang di-Pertua, pointing out corruption allegations against him.

Taib was sworn in as Sarawak’s 7th governor on March 1, taking over from Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng.

Taib became the Sarawak chief minister in 1981 at the age of 45, making him the longest serving chief minister in Malaysia.