MAC: Mines and Communities

Keeping Tabs on Sarawak's "corrupt" chief minister

Published by MAC on 2011-11-21
Source: Statement (2011-11-14)

A massive Malaysian conglomerate, headed by the chief minister of Sarawak, Abdul Taib Mahmud ("Taib"), is now being investigated by the country's Anti-Corruption Commission.

Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS), which is controlled by Taib and his family, face charges of money-laundering in Britain and British offshore financial centres (tax refuges).

The UK government itself is now reported to be "monitoring" the investigation.

CMS' top executive is in fact UK citizen Richard Curtis who, according to the Switzerland-based Bruno Manser Fund, "plays a key role as aide of the deeply corrupted Taib family that runs the [Sarawak] state".

Says the Fund: "The Taibs' business flagship in the UK is Ridgeford Properties, a property company controlled by Taib's daughter Jamilah Taib Murray and his Canadian son-in-law, Sean Murray. Ridgeford Properties holds luxury properties in Central London estimated to be worth several hundred million pounds."

Among the allegations made by the Fund against CMS is that it "has a track record of receiving untendered public contracts worth millions of dollars and holds a cement monopoly in Malaysia's largest state.

"The company has also massively benefited from the Bakun dam construction which has been labelled by Transparency International as a 'monument of corruption'".

Rio Tinto involvement

In May this year MAC reported that Chinalco - the largest shareholder in Rio Tinto - had signed an agreement with another Malaysian tycoon, to take hydro power from the Bakun dam once it becomes operational.

Rio Tinto itself also stands to benefit from electricity generated by the dam. See: London Calling sees Rio Tinto take it on the Chinalco

There is a highly significant connection between CMS and Rio Tinto's Sarawak aluminium smelter project at Similajau, as summarised on CMS' own website:

"Similajau Industries [is] a subsidiary of CMS and the strategic business unit which oversees development of the SALCO smelter project.

CMS and Rio Tinto Alcan signed a Heads of Agreement in August 2007 to commence feasibility studies for the development of the SALCO smelter in Similajau.

The proposed SALCO smelter would have an initial production capacity of 550,000 tonnes per year with scope for expansion up to 1.5 million tones per year".

Taib under investigation in the UK - British government to monitor Malaysia's anti-corruption agency

Foreign and Commonwealth Office alerted over alleged money-laundering by Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud ("Taib") in the United KingdomBruno Manser Fund

14 November 2011

London, UK - The British government will be monitoring the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission's (MACC) investigation into Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud ("Taib") and will use its findings "to support a UK investigation". This has been confirmed in a letter to the Bruno Manser Fund from British Minister of State, Jeremy Browne, the Minister who holds responsibility for Britain's relations with Malaysia.

Browne confirms that the UK government has started looking into alleged Taib family money-laundering in the UK and British offshore financial centres. According to the Minister, a complaint by the Bruno Manser Fund has been "forwarded to the relevant UK authorities". "We are also aware, as your letter states, that the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) has announced the opening of its own investigation into Taib earlier this year."

"The UK attaches considerable importance to the integrity and supervision of its financial services industry and property sector, so concrete allegations of money laundering are taken very seriously." The Minister also stated that the British and Malaysian Governments had signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Transnational Crime, "which foresees close cooperation on money laundering and other illegal activities."

The Bruno Manser Fund had alerted British Prime Minister David Cameron about suspected money-laundering by the Taib family and called on the British government to freeze illicit Taib assets in the UK.

The Taibs' business flagship in the UK is Ridgeford Properties, a property company controlled by Taib's daughter Jamilah Taib Murray and his Canadian son-in-law, Sean Murray. Ridgeford Properties holds luxury properties in Central London estimated to be worth several hundred million pounds.

Prior to the British government, the Swiss and German bank regulators had announced that they would look into potential Taib-related dealings in their countries. Australia's Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Canada's Finance Minister James Flaherty had also assured the Bruno Manser Fund that their governments were taking money-laundering allegations against the Taib family very seriously and would look into the matter.


British Taib Aide slams his Malaysian Master

CMS group executive Richard Curtis might soon be replaced as he speaks out against Sarawak godfather Abdul Taib Mahmud

Bruno Manser Fund

11 November 2011

Basel, Switzerland - Richard Curtis, the British group managing director of Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS), might soon be replaced as top executive of Sarawak's largest corporation following his angry public complaints against Sarawak's long-term state government.

Sarawak has for thirty years been under the tight political control of Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud ("Taib") whose family holds the majority of CMS shares.

According to the Malaysian Insider, Curtis said at a public forum that the Sarawak government was "too slow" and that he was "embarrassed" and "depressed" over the state of affairs in Malaysia's largest state. Curtis pointed out there was a serious lack of infrastructure in Sarawak and said the government should not call for tenders „unless it was serious and had the budget for it".

Ironically, Curtis himself plays a key role as aide of the deeply corrupted Taib family that runs the state against which he is now lashing out in public.

CMS has a track record of receiving untendered public contracts worth millions of dollars and holds a cement monopoly in Malaysia's largest state. The company has also massively benefited from the Bakun dam construction which has been labelled by Transparency International as a "monument of corruption".

Another key CMS shareholder, Taib's son Mahmud Abu Bekir ("Bekir"), has last week been accused by the opposition DAP party for massive corruption over infrastructure projects.

Bekir's majority-owned company, Titanium Project Management, was given a 1.2 billion Malaysian Ringgit (US $380 million) contract by the state government contract for bridge constructions but failed to deliver. Corruption and the abuse of public funds by top politicians are the key reasons for the lack of proper infrastructure and development in the resource-rich state on Borneo

Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS), a Sarawak-based construction conglomerate holds net assets of 2.4 billion Malaysian Ringgit (US $760 million). At least 84% of the shares are held by Abdul Taib Mahmud's late wife Leijla and his four children Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, Sulaiman Rahman Taib, Hanifah Taib and Jamilah Taib Murray.

CMS group managing director Richard Curtis has last month been named by the Bruno Manser Fund on a blacklist of "Taib's foreign helpers". The Bruno Manser Fund has also alerted the British government over Mr. Curtis' key role within the Taib corruption system.

Bruno Manser Fund,
Socinstrasse 37,
4051 Basel / Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 261 94 74,

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