Forged evidence linked to NGO
So, as the reader may already guess, we are unimpressed with the antics of Sarawak Report, Bruno Manser Fund and Global Witness. This is not because we want to deflate the debate on the future of Sarawak, because this debate has huge implications for Malaysia, and the choices are not straightforward.
And it is hard to be confident in an administration led by one wily politician, who has dominated the politics of his state for thirty years. Are we seriously meant to have confidence in an administration that was so centred on one man? Without an effective, critical media, debate within the press only really happened when two branches of the same family were engaged in a private political war.
So, are we looking at fraud and theft, or serious questions about strategy, policy and social justice.
Well, the foreign NGOs will get no critical help from the Malaysian media. The conventional media will censor themselves to near silence, and the opposition websites are just as slavish, in an attempt to follow and endorse anything that undermines BN. But that’s OK, because Clare Rewcastle is a BBC trained Investigative film maker with enough funding to run an international radio station beamed across the planet, Lukas Straumann of the Bruno Manser Fund has a doctorate, and Global Witness are so well established that they get funded by the British Government and the US Government and George Soros.
We hope that you have by now read the websites, and maybe are even a bit of a fan. A reasonable starting point is that if we are to trust these people, they may not get every detail of Malaysian life and culture right, but they won’t make many mistakes. And if they do, well, our country isn’t going to be a Fight Club for every global activist who wants to draw blood.
So here is the first story, of which you have so far seen only scraps and pieces, drawn together by Malaysia Forensics into a single piece of analysis.
Let’s start with the really ugly stuff. In our papers we watch, every few weeks, a freeze-frame domestic car crash as Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, the elder son, is sued by his ex-wife, Shahnaz Abdil Majid. He has a lot of money. Presumably she has quite a lot too, but wants a lot more. So we could reasonably expect her to drag in every bit of dirt that she could stand up in court. It’s all part of the fun. And when she hires Anwar Ibrahim’s lawyer, well, one might hope for a bit of politics to seep through into the courtroom.
What one might not have expected was to hear testimony of over a hundred offshore bank accounts, hundreds and hundreds of millions of Ringgit stashed offshore, expensively named Swiss banks. She produced a report detailing all this, and swore to it. She should know, she tells us she was his wife.
This was devastating, and fitted exactly the image of the Taib family, awash with almost uncontrollable amounts of cash, that the activists have been selling to us since the early run up to the last State elections. It wasn’t just credible: it was endorsed by the Sarawak Report, who said the information matched their separate investigations. And then it was repeated by the Bruno Manser Fund, who, because it conveniently named Swiss banks, Bruno Manser Fund were able to get a Radical MP to move a motion in the Swiss Parliament to have it investigated. Fantastic. And THAT all fitted with the earlier claims, also transmitted by the Bruno Manser Fund and Sarawak report, where they claimed to have got the Swiss President to set the government’s prosecutors to track Taib millions, hidden in Swiss banks around the world.
With momentum like that, it was only a matter of time before the Swiss nailed the Taibs. There was just too much, too many sources for anyone to believe the Taibs when they said it wasn’t true. Sarawak Report, Bruno Manser Fund, two separate sets of Swiss allegations, Mahmud Abu Bekir’s wife, all saying the same thing….
But it has quietly emerged that the whole thing was wrong. Not inaccurate. Not misguided, not exaggerated. The Swiss government, which has unlimited access to the Swiss banks, rejected the whole lot. There is no money in the Swiss banks. There never was.
How could so many people be wrong at the same time?
The stunning answer is that they made it up. Far away, in the Caribbean, the FBI finally extradited a Canadian, Cullen Johnson, who with his wife had been on the run from the US and Canadian police and a lot of very angry people, because he had claimed that he could hack bank accounts, when in fact he was forging them instead, and selling the forgeries on. He has admitted it. And shortly after the US authorities arrested him and seized his computers, the correspondence between him and Clare Rewcastle-Brown was leaked on the web. She has ranted about it, and as usual blames dark forces in Malaysia. But in doing so she has demonstrated that the material is the real thing.
Her correspondence showed Cullen Johnson and Rewcastle-Brown confiding in each other, as they tried to get Shahnaz Abdul Majid to hire him. She lied to the Syariah Court in her divorce, claiming she knew these things to be true, though she was ten years separated from her errant husband. But she hadn’t, it appeared, known enough, so she was persuaded by her lawyers to use Cullen Johnson. And as soon as his forged material was uttered in court, Clare Rewcastle pops up and endorses it. And then she and the BMF sent it round the world.
It’s fantastic. God knows what money Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib has, or where he has it. But the breathless trickery to inject forged material in one end of a court case, pull it out the other, and put it on the web: Well, what does that tell us about the integrity, intentions and grip on facts demonstrated by the people who would have us crucify Taib as a crook?
Malaysia Forensics struggles to sympathise with Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib. Many divorce cases have the benefit of reminding the couple why they are better apart. He appears to be wealthy enough to cope with her demands. And just because they faked the evidence of his offshore assets, it doesn’t automatically mean that he doesn’t have any, or that he was a good and faithful husband. But it is a stunning indictment of Sarawak Report. Because they didn’t have the evidence of offshore wealth, they parasitically took over a Malaysian courtroom, and then endorsed the forgeries. This wasn’t an error of judgement and enthusiasm. And it suggests to Malaysia Forensics that we should deeply distrust everything else this remarkably prolific and well funded campaigner writes.