Defending the corrupt: London law firm paid to lie for Taib
BRUNO MANSER FUND, BASEL / SWITZERLAND
28 March 2013
(London, UK / Kuching, Malaysia) In the wake of a Global Witness „sting“ video release exposing the corruption by Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, London law firm Mishcon de Reya is coming into the spotlight over their dodgy role plaid on behalf of the Malaysian Taib family.
Last week, The Independent quoted Mishcon de Reya’s lawyers as saying that „the government of Sarawak issues licences for land in very controlled circumstances... This is an administrative exercise, not political patronage. Our client never demands or accepts bribes for the grant of licences and leases.“
The Bruno Manser Fund challenges Mishcon de Reya to explain why, in these „very controlled circumstances“, close to 200,000 hectares of Sarawak state lands ended up in the hands of oil palm plantation companies in which Taib family members have a known business interest.
Mishcon de Reya’s relationship with the Taib family goes back to 2011 when the lawfirm threatened a number of British journalists with legal action over critical reports on the Taib family and its ties to multi-million dollar property businesses in variouscountries.
In April 2011, British journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown received a „strictly private & confidential“ letter from Mishcon de Reya entitled „Notification of Intended Proceedings“. The letter, written on behalf of Taib’s Canadian son-in-law, Sean Murray, complained about the journalist’s reports on the Taib family-related Sakti International Inc. (US), Sakto Corporation (Canada) and Ridgeford Properties (UK).
Rewcastle Brown, editor of Sarawak Report, was given 7 days to retract her allegations, failing which Mishcon de Reya threatened to „invite the Court to draw the appropriate inferences“. The lawfirm also stated that „our clients reserve their rights to issue proceedings against your defamation“. When Rewcastle Brown refused to retract the report, Mishcon de Reya’s legal letter turned out to be an empty threat.
The Bruno Manser Fund calls on Mishcon de Reya to drop the Sarawak Chief Minister and his family members as their customers and to stop intimidating journalists who are doing their professional duties.