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Taib Mahmud’s property empire

July 2, 2010
Taib’s property empire: FBI among tenants?
Jul 2, 10 4:46pm
Malaysiakini.com
More of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s international property empire is being uncovered, with new information suggesting that it extends to the West Coast of the United States.

According to the latest article on anti-Taib website Sarawak Report, Taib’s US properties are being managed by one Sakti International Corporation, which owns an estimated US$80 million (RM258 million) in properties.

It said that each property is held by a subsidiary, usually named after the property’s street address and one company of interest was Seattle-based Wallyson’s Incorporated, which manages the Abraham Lincoln Building.

NONEThis maximum security building houses the Seattle division of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and counter-terrorism unit, the Washington Fusion Centre.

The level of security is so tight that when a Seattle Weekly photographer tried to snap a picture of the building, he was “harassed” by several FBI personnel who demanded for his identification and reasons for shooting the photographs.

“This is the North West Regional Headquarters for the FBI, America’s domestic security and counter-terrorism service. The Seattle branch lists among its particular responsibilities countering-terrorism threats from Far East Asia.

“This building is owned by the Taib family,” says the Sarawak Report article.

All in the family

The article claimed that San Francisco Superior Court documents showed that the company, Sakti, was initially managed by Mahmud Abu Bekir, Taib’s eldest son, when it was established in 1987.

Following this, Mahmud Abu Bekir paved way for younger brother Sulaiman Abdul Rahman as “sole officer and director of Sakti”. In 1987, the two brothers were still in their 20s.

NONEIn 2006, Sulaiman was succeeded by Sean Murray, who is married to Taib’s eldest daughter Jamilah Hamidah (left), who also manages the company’s Canadian counterpart Sakto Development Corporation.

The Sarawak Report article also states that the court documents showed that all original Sakti shareholders were related to Taib – children Mahmud Abu Bekir, Jamilah Hamidah and Sulaiman Abdul Rahman, as well as Taib’s brothers Onn and Arip.

Alongside the Abraham Lincoln Building, Sakti’s other main property includes 260 California Street, San Francisco, the tenants of which include Citibank.

“It shows once again the Taib family’s ability to ingratiate itself with the establishment in host countries for their foreign investments,” said Sarawak Report.

Explanation sought

The report also challenged Taib’s family to explain how they were capable of investing millions of dollars in the establishment of Sakto and Sakti, with a combined estimated portfolio of about US$200 million (RM645.2 million).

azlan“Of the original shareholders, Jamilah, Sulaiman and Mahmud were in their early 20s and at college at that time, while the other two shareholders, Arip and Onn, are the chief minister’s brothers.

“If the money was all coming from the two uncles, who are purported to be businessmen, then their generosity in including the chief minister’s children rather than their own in these shareholdings is surprising,” read the article.

It adds that the chief minister owes the people of Sarawak an explanation on whether he currently or previously held stakes in Sakto and Sakti.

“If Taib is the beneficial owner of any of the shares in these companies, the Sarawak taxpayer is entitled to know how he obtained them. Malaysia’s law enforcers should be enquiring on their behalf,” the article said.

Taib, who has ruled Sarawak since 1981, is speculated to be among Malaysia’s richest, with business interests in a variety of industries locally and abroad.

Most prominent of the Taib family companies is conglomerate Cahaya Mata Sarawak Bhd, which constructed much of the state’s infrastructure.

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