PUTRAJAYA (Feb 25): PKR has lodged a report to Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) against outgoing Sarawak Chief Minister Pehin Seri Taib Mahmud with freshly obtained ruling documents from Japan.
In 2008, Tokyo Tax tribunal had ruled that a sum of RM 32 million brokerage fee paid by eight timber shipping companies to Taib's brother, Onn Mahmud from 2001 to 2006, via a Hong Kong based company Regent Star, was legitimate expenses and therefore tax deductable.
However, PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramly said that MACC should investigate the matter from a money laundering perspective.
He said that although the Tax Tribunal had ruled that the sum was tax deductable, that does not change the fact that kickbacks was paid to Onn.
"From our perspective, one has to wonder, how a sibling who does not have any official position in the government can exert that much influence and power over the whole industry. This implies that close family relationship with Taib can influence the decision of the state," said Rafizi.
"The fact that he has been getting commission, as far as we are concern this is bribery, because he collects the money from these companies who were forced to deal with him in order to export timber from Sarawak," he said.
He said that while the MACC investigated Taib on corruption allegations, his family members should be investigated as well as they had enjoyed the benefits during Taib's tenure as the chief minister.
He also said that in order for Japanese shipping companies to engage in shipping businesses in Sarawak, they must first sign an agreement with an agent.
"Onn Mahmud obviously has a strong influence in the government to the extend that his company could ask for a big sum of money from the shipping companies to export timber from Sarawak.
"He did not provide any other services except being the agent and collecting the money," said Rafizi..
He also asked MACC to speed up any corruption cases related Taib's family members.
PKR handed over related documents and a letter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to suspend the process of nominating Taib as the governor of Sarawak.
"It goes without saying, a person who has been a chief minister for 33 years, whatever it is, he will exert undue influence in the government because the whole system was built by him.
"Obviously if you build a system, you build it to last even after you have left office. The worse case scenario is for him to be the governor, even if he retires and not brought to justice, he will still have a lot of influence," Rafizi said.
He also added that Najib would have more reason for not nominating Taib as governor as the prime minister has gone through "hell and hustle" because former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad remains influential even after retiring.
Batu Lintang state assemblyman See Chee How who was also present at MACC headquarters added that Taib must come clean before he is appointed as Sarawak governor.
"We hope MACC can look into this matter. If we want Taib Mahmud as the Governer, let him be cleared of this first. I think that is immportant because we want to know the government is doing something to make sure we have good governance in Malaysia," See said.
See also added that the RM32million paid in five years were a relatively small sum as the timber production had slowed down since 2000s as compare to its higher production in the 1980s and 1990s.
Also, this sum only involved eight companies.
"There are 46 companies in this shipping cartel," See said adding that the agent company Regent Star was incorporated on Nov 22,1983.
See, who had made a trip to Japan recently, said that documents from Japan, Hong Kong, Ontario, Canada showed that money trail had lead back to a few members of Taib's family, as well as some government officials.
He said that non-governmental organisations in Japan will lodge a report on the case to the prosecutor's office from a money laundering perspective.
"It is up to the Japanese prosecutor's office to take further action," he added.
The case had involved eight timber shipping cartel which was tried in Japan's Tokyo Tax Tribunal in 2007 and an appeal was dealt with in 2008.
According to the summary of the one of the companies, NFA's case prepared by See, the Tax Tribunal had recognised that NFA was under duress to enter into these contractual arrangements in order to engage in the timber shipping business with Sarawak.
The tribunal noted that Onn Mahmud was in a position to exert overwhelming influence over the scheme given effect by the three contracts signed between NFA, Regent Star and Onn Mahmud's company Dewaniaga Sarawak.