Taib Foreign Property Portfolio

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 GMT
Canadian properties worth in excess of a hundred million dollars

Multi-million dollar complex

Twin glass towers and a swish shopping complex at Preston Square in downtown Ottawa form just part of an enormous foreign property portfolio controlled in Canada by the family of Sarawak Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud, according to our exclusive investigations.

These buildings alone are worth at least one hundred million dollars and generate a healthy rental income from some of Canada’s top corporations, including Xerox, Adobe and Sun Life, who rent office space and retail outlets. Numerous Canadian Government Ministries are also listed at the building.
Preston Square Ottawa – office space and shops

The Preston Square development lies at the centre of the major Canadian property empire run by the developer Sakto, which was founded in the early 1980s by Taib’s college-aged son Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, his daughter Jamilah and his brother Onn Mahmud. It continues to be managed as a ‘family business’ by his now son-in-law, a Canadian, Sean Murray.
Commercial Skyscraper – Ottawa’s ‘Xerox Tower’ Complex. Sun Life and Adobe are some of the companies to rent space in this prestige property in Ottawa

Taxpayers in Sarawak are entitled to ask how the Chief Minister’s modest 20,000 Malaysian Ringgit a month official salary has managed to help generate a property empire worth so much. It is also well known that the Taib family own further considerable assets in Malaysia and elsewhere.

Dozens more buildings in Canada alone
Adjacent to the Preston Square commercial complex, Sarawak Report has further identified a luxury, multi-story residential building, also constructed by the Taibs and let for rent since 2006. The family have named the building The Adelaide, an Australian city popular with Taib Mahmud and his late wife Laila
Luxury Living – The Adelaide (left)
Sakto publicity boasts that these ”stylish urban rentals are lavishly equipped” with ”all the elements of contemporary flair” and assure clients that ”all units share the ease of abundant parking and the beauty of Preston’s Square manicured setting”.

Arrogant Admission
We bring these revelations in the wake of the elderly Chief Minister’s admission last week that the Bumi remain ”poor and in difficulty”. In this way, he explained, they can be relied upon to stay ”humble” and continue to vote for Barisan National (BN) at the next election. Many in Sarawak have questioned why the Chief Minister has done so little to improve the lives of his people during his thirty years in power and where the profits of decades of timber and oil extraction have been spent. Sarawak is Malaysia’s richest state in terms of natural resources and yet remains home to some of its poorest people.

Exclusive revelations show Canadian Government and top corporations rent from the Taibs
Top rents

Sakto Development Corporation was set up in August 1983, according to official Ontario records, two years after Taib Mahmud took power. The Directors were Taib’s brother, Onn Mahmud, Taib’s son Mahmud Abu Bekir (aged just 20) and Taib’s daughter Jamilah, both still students. Three months later Onn also established Richfold Investment Limited in Hong Kong. He did so on the same day that another company, Regent Star Company Limited, was incorporated with a mutual director, Kin Kwok Shea, at the same office address. It was Regent Star Company which was identified by the Japanese Tax Authorities in 2007 as having received 32 million Malaysian Ringgit in kickbacks from Japanese timber exporters over the preceding seven years covered by their investigation. The Japanese shipping cartel is known to have been making such payments since the early 1980s, amounting to a total of hundreds of millions of ringgit.

Impressive Investments
Sakto publicity claimed the company invested heavily in its first year(1983), “acquiring over 400 residential units” according to its previous website.

One of the Taib residential properties

Financial records also show that the company invested over $7 million Canadian Dollars during the first twelve months of its activities, $4.5 million of which was raised from its shareholders. In Canada shareholders are allowed to remain anonymous. By the end of its first decade (in 1993) Sakto’s Financial Report shows the company had assets of just under $40 million Canadian Dollars. Those acquisitions were backed by over $25 million in interest-free shareholder loans, for which “repayment terms had not been established”. Additionally, Sakto had received a further $3 million in non-interest bearing loans, $1.5 million of which was “payable to a company related to a shareholder”. Among the developments Sakto invested in was the construction of what the company described as a “Class A Office Tower”, completed on schedule and within budget in November 1989. Known as 333 Preston Street, this building houses the company’s current headquarters. In all but one of those years the company was declaring a loss and not paying taxes.


Aquired in 2000 – Government Offices

During the 1990s, the company claims it ”continued shaping [its] property portfolio through acquisitions and disposals of various assets” and since 2000 it has been involved in some of Ottawa’s biggest property deals. These included the news making purchase of over a quarter of a million square feet of commercial space in the flourishing high-tech business district of Kanata and other buildings for over $31 million Canadian Dollars. Much of this property was later sold on to a ’nominee’ company, however Sakto continues to lease and manage the buildings, apparently on behalf of the new purchasers.
Getting Bigger – Commercial Plaza Expansion

The company has recently completed the building of a second phase of its Preston Street Commerce Plaza complex, which includes a second 16 story tower block and a large commercial centre. The Sakto website boasts that the centre represents “the very definition of Class A business space”.
Uncle Onn Mahmud (Taib’s brother) Directed the company with Jamilah until 2004

Sean Murray, the current Director of Sakto, is a Canadian of Irish Catholic extraction. Records show he became involved in Sakto’s affairs in 1987, having reportedly met Jamilah Taib at University. After marrying Jamilah, a process that involved his conversion to Islam, Sean Murray took over as a Director of a number of the Taib property interests, however there is no indication that he has become an actual shareholder. Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib ceased to be listed as a Director of Sakto some years ago, however Onn Mahmud, Taib’s brother only resigned as a Director in 2004.
Society Family
A number of Sean Murray’s family members are now employed at Sakto, which they describe as a family business. Some of Canada’s biggest commercial names rent space at their commercial and office properties, as well as numerous Canadian Government Ministries. Now prominent members Major Shopping Mall – includes Chapters Bookstoreof Ottawa’s social elite, Sean Murray and Jamilah Taib are frequently photographed at society occasions and listed as donors to the city’s National Gallery of Canada. Functions at their lavish Rockcliffe mansion have included fundraisers for the top Canadian school, Ashbury College and for multiple Irish charities, including the Catholic St Patrick’s Home and the Ireland Fund of Canada.

The couple drew considerable attention when they recently moved into their new house, recorded as being the second most expensive private home in Ottawa and costing them over $9.6 million Canadian Dollars. Guests have been known to joke that it is so vast that different wings must have different post codes
Political Connections

The couple, separately and through Sakto, have also been regular donors to the Ontario Liberal Party. This has included contributions totalling $6,000 to Premiere Dalton Mcguinty’s campaign budget in 2003. In 2007 it was announced that eleven Ontario Ministries were relocating into Sakto’s Preston Square building. ”Bringing together 11 ministries at Preston Square, in the heart of our community, will make our government more accessible to the people of Ottawa and more cost-effective”, explained Yasir Naqvi, MPP for Ottawa Centre. The offices were officially opened by Dalton Mcguinty himself in April 2008.
From trees to tower blocks
Sarawak Report’s exclusive revelations are likely to draw fierce criticism from Canadian environmentalists and human rights campaigners, who have highlighted the devastation caused by unsustainable logging in Sarawak. Over US$25 billion worth of timber has been exported from the state as a result of the rampant, unsustainable logging promoted by Taib Mahmud and the former Chief Minister, who was his uncle. Less than 3% of the original rainforest remains and many of its indigenous peoples are now destitute as a direct result.
What is now clear is that Sakto’s position as one of Canada’s top development companies is closely linked to the Taib family’s questionable wealth and to tropical rainforest devastation. Canada’s booming property market of past years has exponentially increased the value of those investments, leaving the Taibs (but not the people of Sarawak) even more fabulously wealthy than before.

Sakti/Sakto – Another Taib Exclusive

Thursday, July 1st, 2010 GMT

Sakto Canada/Sakti US

When you have dozens of properties and as many companies to manage them it is always a good trick to stick to similar names. Sarawak Report can exclusively reveal that there is a US arm to the Taib family’s North American property empire
Palatial – just one of the Taib family’s US residences

In Ottawa, Canada the family’s interests are managed by Sakto Corporation, but in the US they are managed by Sakti International Corporation. Sakti International Corporation comprises properties totalling an estimated value of US$80,000,000, according to their own company documents. Each property is held under a separate company, usually named after the property’s street address, again in order to aid recognition. For example, W.A. Boylston manages 1117 Boylston St, Seattle (shown right).

However, one of these companies is not so named. Wallyson’s Incorporated, based in Seattle, operates what is known as the Abraham Lincoln Building. The Abraham Lincoln Building houses a top secret FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) facility and to enter requires maximum security clearance.FBI Headquarters in Seattle – a Taib Building

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

FBI emblem at Abraham Lincoln Building

Sakti’s other main US office block, 260 California Street, San Francisco, also rents space to an impressive list of clients, including Citibank. It shows once again the Taib family’s ability to ingratiate with the establishment in host countries for their foreign investments.

Taib company history in the USA

Also like Sakto, Sakti is currently managed by Sean Murray, husband of Jamilah Taib, who is the daughter of Abdul Taib Mahmud, Chief Minister of Sarawak (salary 20,000 Malaysian Ringgit per month). Sean Murray was re-named Hisham Murray when he converted to the Muslim faith on his marriage to Jamilah, but never uses this name in his business or social capacities outside of Sarawak.

Hisham (Sean) and Jamilah Murray

However recent court documents deposited with the San Francisco Superior Court show that the company has always belonged to the Taib family. Sakti makes several key acknowledgements in its deposition to the Court, which are therefore incontestable. The company admits that Sakti was incorporated in California in 1987 and that it was initially managed by Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib. The documents state “The Defendants [Sakti International Corporation] admit that beginning September 10, 1987, Sakti’s designated Chief Executive Officer, Secretary and Chief Financial Officer was Mahmud Taib”.

Previous revelations in Sarawak Report have proved that Mahmud Taib, the eldest son of the Chief Minister, was also an original Director of Sakto in Canada, formed in 1983, along with his sister Jamilah and their uncle Onn Mahmud, the Chief Minister’s brother.

San Francisco Court Deposition – Defendent Sakti International Corporation

The Sakti court deposition goes on to admit that Mahmud Taib, who is now a Director of CMS Sarawak, was later succeeded by his younger brother Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib as “sole officer and director of Sakti”. Sarawak Report has documents to show that he was also the sole officer of Wallyson’s (see below).

When Sakti was incorporated in 1987 Mahmud Taib was 27 years old and his brother Rahman Taib was just 20. However, the youthful brothers were supported in their roles by the involvement of other close family members. Two of the Chief Minister’s brothers (Mahmud Taib’s uncles) joined him as the original directors of the company. The deposition by Sakti says “[The] Defendants admit that the original members of Sakti’s Board of Directors were Onn Mahmud, Arip Mahmud and Mahmud Taib”.

Shareholders

Equally significantly Sakti admits that the shareholders of Sakti are all the Chief Minister’s own children or his brothers. The document deposited by Sakti International Corporation states ”the original shareholders of the company were Mahmud Taib, Onn Mahmud, Jamilah Taib, Arip Mahmud, and Rahman”. It goes on to confirm that “Mahmud Taib, Onn Mahmud, Jamilah Taib, Arip Mahmud and Rahaman are still shareholders of Sakti Holdings” (the company into which the shares have been moved).

Sarawak Report can therefore categorically verify that Sakti in the US, like Sakto in Canada, was set up and originally managed exclusively by the Taib family, who provided the original US shareholder investments. The involvement of Sean Murray, the current Manager of Sakto and Sakti, began only after his marriage to Jamilah Taib and in fact he succeeded Rahman Taib as the Manager of Sakti only in 2006.

Sarawak Report therefore invites Mr Murray to declare whether he currently holds any shareholdings in the companies he directs, or if he is merely an employee of his wife’s family.

Sole Officer and Director Rahman Taib and his parents, the Chief Minister and Laila Taib

Sarawak Report also invites the Taib family to explain how between 1983 and 1987 they were able to invest millions of dollars in the setting up of two property companies in Canada and the US, whose combined portfolios are now worth at at least US$200,000,000. Of the original shareholders, Jamilah, Rahman and Mahmud (the children of Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud) were in their early twenties 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.

Time for some answers

Sarawak Report believes that the people of Sarawak deserve an immediate explanation of these facts from Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud. The Chief Minister should instantly reveal whether he holds or once held a stake in these companies in North America and if any of the money invested was provided by him. If Taib Mahmud is the beneficial owner of any of the shares in these companies the Sarawak taxpayer is entitled to know he obtained them. Malaysia’s law enforcers should be enquiring on their behalf.

The FBI should also be willing to issue a statement enlightening the public about the ownership of the building they occupy. As joint defendents in the California court case Wallyson’s and Sakti International admitted that the owner of Wallyson’s Incoporated is a company called Rodinmass, which is registered in the British Virgin Islands. It is inconceivable that the FBI did not check who the owners of Rodinmass were, given the sensitivity of this building. As the sole officer of Wallyson’s was Rahman Taib, Sarawak Report contends that the owners and shareholders of Rodinmass are, like with Sakti International, the Taib family. Our information is that Laila Taib was the majority shareholder of Rodinmass.

Taib’s wife, brothers and children are all linked to these North American companies. It is for Taib to now demonstrate that somehow he is not also linked as a beneficial owner of these lucrative properties.