European NGOs want Taib’s assets in Germany frozen
More Europe-based NGOs are plying pressure on the authorities there to freeze the assets of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.
In a press statement today, Swiss NGO Bruno Manser Fund said that it had written to German chancellor Angela Merkel on the matter, together with two German NGOs – the Society for Threatened Peoples and Rettet den Regenwald.
They asked “the German government to clarify Deutsche Bank’s business ties with Taib and to freeze all Taib assets in Germany.
“We are seriously concerned that, as a leading German financial institute, Deutsche Bank is closely cooperating with the highly corrupt and internationally discredited Taib regime.
“We feel that this cooperation cannot be in the interest of the German government, which is globally promoting the effective combating of corruption,” the NGOs wrote.
Referring to Taib as “one of South East Asia’s leading kleptocrats”, Bruno Manser Funds claims that Deutsche Bank conducts business transactions for both the Sarawak government and companies linked to Taib’s family.
Joint ventures with CMS
It stated that the Sarawak government’s transactions via Deutsche Bank in 2004 and 2005 exceeded US$700 million.
“Deutsche Bank International’s Jersey and Cayman branches are administering the Jersey-based Sogo Holdings Limited, through which several… Taib family assets in the US are held.
“In Malaysia, Deutsche Bank is running joint ventures with Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS), the Taib family’s business flagship, under the names of K&N Kenanga Holdings and Kenanga Deutsche Futures,” it said.
According to the statement, the bank has thus far ignored the Society for Threatened Peoples which wants it to explain its business ties with Taib.
Taib is currently under investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and Swiss Financial Markets Supervisory Authority, which is looking at the legitimacy of his assets in Swiss banks.
Environmental and human rights campaigners have staged street protests against Taib in Switzerland and Australia earlier this year, according to a media release from the Bruno Manser Fund.
These protests have been preceded by similar ones in London, Ottawa, Seattle and San Francisco.
In Australia, campaigners of the Huon Valley Environmental Centre staged a sit-in at the Hobart, Tasmania, offices of Ta Ann, a highly controversial Taib family-linked logging corporation, while there was a simultaneous protest action at Adelaide University.
In return for large donations, the university has bestowed an honorary doctorate and re-named a high profile plaza on campus the ‘Taib Mahmud, Chief Minister of Sarawak Court’. The university was urged to cut ties with him. – Mkini