NGOs take fight against Malaysian kleptocrat to the highest OECD level

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Taib Mahmud

OECD Watch, an Amsterdam-based coalition of 116 NGOs, has written to OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría to condemn an extraordinary move by the Canadian government aimed at protecting a real estate firm controlled by a Malaysian kleptocrat from public scrutiny, the Bruno Manser Fund reports.

In a letter to the OECD’s top brass, OECD Watch coordinator Joseph Wilde-Ramsing accused the Canadian government of “making a mockery of the OECD Guidelines“, a set of standards for multinational enterprises which OECD member states have committed to enforce in their jurisdictions.

Wilde-Ramsing vented his anger after OECD Watch and the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund received a “cease and desist letter” from the Canadian Department of Justice, asking the two organisations to pull a Canadian government assessment on a real estate firm controlled by the family of Sarawak Governor Abdul Taib Mahmud from their website.

The assessment had concluded in October 2016 that a complaint under OECD rules against the Taibs’ Sakto Corporation, an Ottawa-based multinational real estate group, was “material and substantiated“. Later, the Canadian government backtracked due to Sakto’s “aggressive challenge“ of their jurisdiction and legal submissions to Canada’s deputy minister of justice.

Sakto is being directed by Jamilah Taib, the daughter of Sarawak Governor Taib Mahmud, and her Canadian husband, Sean Murray. The company holds $200 million in real estate in Ottawa and has subsidiaries in the US, the UK and Australia with properties worth over $150 million. The company, which has been accused of laundering the proceeds of corruption in Malaysia, has consistently refused to detail its ownership structure and the source of its funding.

READ MORE:  The Malaysia Agreement 1963

The Bruno Manser Fund welcomes OECD Watch’s letter and condemns the Canadian government for protecting a Malaysian kleptocrat instead of enforcing OECD rules.

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