Switzerland-based pressure group Bruno Manser Fonds has urged the United States and Malaysian authorities to freeze US$16.94 million (RM 56.32 million) it believes are illicit funds linked to outgoing Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.
It said that the US$16.94 million are proceeds from a sale of a building in San Fransisco in 2012 by the company, Sakti International Corporation, which it alleges is half-owned by Taib and that this is in contravention of the Sarawak constitution.
The state constitution bars a chief minister from actively engaging in commercial entities.
“The Sakti sale is a textbook example of money-laundering. A foreign politician who acts in an illegal and unconstitutional way should not be allowed to operate freely in the United States.
“The US and the Malaysian authorities have to act decisively and confiscate all Taib assets for which the origin cannot be explained,” it said.
According to BMF, documents revealed by whistleblower Ross Boyert in 2010 showed that 50 percent of Sakti's shares are held in trust for Taib by his brothers and children.
Boyert (left) had managed Taib's family's properties in the US for 12 years until he was dismissed. He filed a legal suit against Sakti in 2007 over the dismissal.
However, Boyert was found dead, with a plastic bag around his head in a Los Angeles hotel room in 2010, after the documents were leaked.
According to an article in The Registry, a news portal focusing on the San Fransisco Bay area real estate industry, an 11-storey plus penthouse historical building on 260 California St was sold in July 2012 for US$16.94 million.
It said that Sakti, a unit of real estate and investment firm Sakto Corporation of Ottawa, Canada, was the seller. Sakti had also used the penthouse as its office, but left after the sale.
Sakto is founded by Taib's daughter Jamilah. Taib previously said that his daughter's wealth was the result of her own business sense.
Malaysiakini has contacted the Sarawak Chief Minister's Office for a response to this BMF claim.