When Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud told longhouses residents in Sungai Aup, Sibu, in 2010 that he had ‘more money than he can ever spend’, people understood that he was rich. But how rich, was anyone’s guess.

Pushparani Thilaganathan, FMT

Earlier today, Swiss-based NGO, Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), threw some light when it released its report: The Taib Timber Mafia. Facts and Figures on Politically Exposed Persons from Sarawak, Malaysia.

According to the report, Taib and his 20-member family clan are collectively worth US$21 billion (RM64 billion).

Taib himself is worth US$15 billion (RM45 billion) and, according to the report, “is the richest man in Malaysia”… his wealth having been derived from “plundering the state during his three decades as Chief Minister of Sarawak”.

It further explains why Umno and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak cannot muscle old man Taib out of his decades-old political seat.

Also wallowing in wealth are Taib’s better known siblings Onn Mahmud, Tufail Mahmud, Raziah Mahmud and his children Mahmud Bekir, Sulaiman Rahman, Jamilah and Hanifah. Also in this elite loop is his first cousin Hamid Sepawi.

Lesser known to the masses are Taib’s 12 other clan members, also “business magnets” worth millions in US dollar.

Disclosing these financial details in a 45-page report released in Brussels in conjunction with the visit of the Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister, Bernard Dompok, to the European Union, BMF noted that “godfather” Taib and his family may have more “assets hidden in offshore districts”, which may be untraceable.

“The facts and figures of the Taib family are merely the tip of the iceberg as many family assets are likely to be hidden overseas or in offshore districts where information is virtually impossible to obtain.”

But the extensive research into Taib’s business in Malaysia and overseas had, however, uncovered the vast dimensions of the family’s illicit assets.

“This report aims to build up international pressure against the corrupt Taib family and provide investigating bodies, journalists, Sarawakians and interested parties with detailed evidence on the Taib financial empire.

“The report also aims to demonstrate the financial and political control that Taib has over Sarawak and provides profiles on the chief minister and his family members, all of whom have financially benefited from the destruction of Sarawak’s rainforest,” it said.

The reports claimed that Taib abused his position as chief minister, state finance minister, and planning and resources minister, to award his family members with timber and palm oil concessions, state contracts and directorships in Sarawak’s largest companies.

It notes that in 2009, his three ministries controlled 49.6% of the state’s operating expenditure of RM1.19 billion (US% 391 million) and 80% of the state’s development expenditure of RM3.08 billion (US$1.01 billion), with the other 10 ministers sharing the rest.

Overflowing wealth

Detailing the wealth list of the Taib clan, the report said that the second richest man in Malaysia was Taib’s brother Onn Mahmud, who is worth US$2 billion (RM6 billion).

Also sharing the billionaire tag with a net worth of US%1.5 billion (RM4.5 billion) and US$1 billion (RM3 billion) respectively were Taib’s elder son Mahmud Bekir and his Canada-based socialite daughter Jamilah Taib-Murray.

His two other children – the “invisible” Kota Samarahan MP, Sulaiman Rahman, is worth US$300 million (RM900 million) while and daughter Hanifah has US$400 million (RM1.2 billion) to her name.

Taib’s sibling Onn Mahmud has an alleged net worth of US$1.5 billion (RM4.5 billion) and is the second richest man in Malaysia, while his other brother Tufail has US$600 million (RM1.8 billion) and sister Raziah is worth US$500 million (RM1.5 billion).

Other siblings noted in the report are Arip Mahmud who is worth US$100 million (RM300 million), Ibrahim Mahmud and Ali Mahmud at US$20 million (RM60 million) each. His sister Ferdahanum and Zaleha are worth US$10 million (RM30 million) each while the net worth of another sister Aisah Zainab is not known.

Also mentioned in the report is Taib’s cousin Hamid Sepawi who made the Forbes Asia 2012 list . Hamid, who is the founder of Ta Ann Group, a timber conglomerate, is worth US$175 million (RM535 million), according to the list.

Next in line is Taib’s in-laws.

His daughter Jamilah’s husband, Sean Murray, is worth US$10 million (RM30 million) while Hanifah’s spouse Syed Ahmad enjoys US$20 million (RM60 million) in assets.

Of his brother-in laws, Robert Geneid (Raziah’s spouse) has US$10 million (RM30 million) and Ferdahanum’s man Abdul Aziz Husain has US$20 million (RM60 million).

Source : Malaysia Today

He is the man who cashed-in an entire jungle of valuable hard timber. He is also the man who controls all the land titles for an area roughly the size of England, a position which he has systematically abused to enrich himself.

Sarawak Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud, is furthermore the gate-keeper for all the state and federal contracts handed out in Sarawak and he has privatised most of its key industries into his own family companies.

So it should come as little surprise that the latest audit on the Mahmud family, conducted by the Swiss NGO the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), has estimated his wealth at a staggering USD15 billion (RM46 billion).

It makes him Malaysia’s richest man, with his illegally gained assets topping those of the ‘sugar king’ Robert Kuok, who leads the Forbes Rich List for Malaysias with a mere USD12 billion.

BMF, which campaigns on environmental and indigenous issues in Sarawak, makes clear that this is a conservative estimate of the Chief Minister’s wealth, acquired through 30 years of systematic and documented plunder of Sarawak’s wealth and natural resources.

The audit, which forms part of a report entitled “The Taib Timber Mafia. Facts and Figures on Politically Exposed Persons from Sarawak, Malaysia” was released today in Brussels to mark the visit of the Malaysian Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Bernard Dompok, to the European Commission.

Environmental organisations have protested against any timber agreements with Malaysia until the corrupt and unrestrained logging practices are ended in Sarawak and in Sabah.

“More money than I could ever spend”

The report describes Taib as “The Godfather of a family business empire” with illicit assets in excess of USD20billion, of which his personal worth forms at least USD15 billion

“Taib’s elder son, Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, a major player in the Sarawak construction, property and energy business, has been rated at USD 1.5 billion. Next in line are Taib’s Canada-based socialite daughter Jamilah Taib Murray (USD 1 billion), Taib brother and timber entrepreneur Tufail Mahmud (USD 600 million), sister Raziah Mahmud (USD 500 million), daughter Hanifah (USD 400 million) and son Sulaiman (USD 300 million). Timber conglomerate Ta Ann founder and Sarawak Energy chairman, Hamed Sepawi, a first cousin of the Sarawak Chief Minister is rated at USD 175 million.” [BMF briefing]

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