According to The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), he is believed to be worth over A$2 billion (RM6.23 billion) gained from the family’s control of logging concessions that have stripped the Borneo state of its tropical rainforests for the past 30 years.
In describing a gravy train that ran on an extensive global track, SMH also reported that a substantial slice of Onn’s wealth had found its way to property development investments in Australia via Singapore.
Onn’s business dealings Down Under came into the spotlight today after Australian media cited documents obtained by news giant Fairfax Media that alleged the Malaysian escaped having to pay millions of dollars in property taxes there using offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands.
SMH reported that Onn had been in charge of a company, Archipelago, that had been granted exclusive rights over all timber being shipped out of Sarawak by his brother and also controlled another company in Hong Kong, Regent Star, that had received more than A$10 million (RM31.18 million) in kickbacks over several years from a shipping cartel for the precious wood.
Funds for Onn’s property deals were moved in and out of Australia with the aid of the Singapore office of merchant bankers Merrill Lynch, while legal advice on his company’s operations was also provided by the law firm Lee and Lee, founded by the island republic’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew.
“On several occasions, I met Onn’s legal advisor in Singapore, Aw-Yong Tian Soo, a senior partner at Lee and Lee, to discuss matters of Onn’s legal status and property development and transfer of funds overseas,” Farok Abdul Majeed, a Malaysia-born businessman said to have run Onn’s Sydney property deals for several years, told SMH.
Farok is now fighting to recover millions of dollars he claims to be owed in unpaid fees, commissions and expenses.
The Australian case is helping to shed light on the reputed massive wealth of Sarawak’s longest-serving chief minister and his family, while Malayia’s anti-corruption authority appears stymied in its investigations due to Abdul Taib’s public refusal to cooperate.
“They don’t deserve my co-operation because they have been naughty... and they have not been honest,” Abdul Taib told reporters after attending a Barisan Nasional leadership meeting here on April 4.
~ The Malaysian Insider