Toronto court pursues hearing on Taib’s finances as activists look on

The saga of indigenous people in Sarawak, Malaysia goes on in the new year – pursuing the case of Sarawak Governor Abdul Taib Mahmud to as far as Canada. Here’s an update on the long-standing case:

Taib Mahmud (second from right) greets supporters with his second wife, Ragad Taib (R) in Sarawak, Malaysia. Source: Twitter

(MONTREAL, CANADA) A civil society delegation from the Malaysian state of Sarawak is touring the Canadian East Coast this week in order to create public awareness for the struggle of Sarawak’s indigenous peoples.

The delegation led by former Baram MP and Goldman Environmental Prize winner Harrison Ngau will visit Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto where they will speak on the occasion of screenings of the documentary The Borneo Case ( The delegates will also attend meetings with politicians and civil society representatives and hold a press conference at the Canadian Parliament on Friday 2 February.

 Early next week, the Sarawak activists will attend a precedent-setting hearing on the disclosure of financial records regarding Sakto, a $200 million Ontario real estate group controlled by the family of Sarawak Governor Abdul Taib Mahmud. The case is scheduled to be heard by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on 5 and 6 February.

Last year, an investigation by the Bruno Manser Fund had found that an approximated 70 million dollars of unexplained wealth had been channelled by the Taib family into Sakto since the early 1980s.

Subsequently, the Bruno Manser Fund filed legal action for a Norwich Pharmacal disclosure order which would force the Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion Bank, Manulife Financial and Deloitte to release their financial records on Sakto.

 Sakto is one of Ottawa’s leading real estate developers and is being directed by Jamilah Taib Murray (Abdul Taib Mahmud’s daughter) and her husband Sean Murray.

The Sarawak activists’ Canada tour has been organized by the Bruno Manser Fund and will be hosted by Canadian NGOs Inter Pares, Above Ground, Mining Watch Canada, Canadians for Tax Fairness as well as by Concordia University, Montreal, and the University of Toronto.

The name of Taib Mahmud has been defaced from Adelaide University’s court. (Photo supplied)

The Borneo Case screenings in Canada


Wednesday 31 January, 6:30 pm, Atrium Samuel Bronfman, Concordia University, 1590 Dr. Penfield Rd Hosted by Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy, First Voices, Dialog, Loyola Sustainability Research Centre (Concordia University) and Bruno Manser Fonds.

Montreal coordinator: Mutang Urud (514)


Thursday 1st February, 6:30pm, Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank St

Hosted by Inter Pares, Above Ground, MiningWatch Canada, Canadians for Tax Fairness.

Ottawa coordinator: Jean Symes, Inter Pares (613) 563-4801 ext.


Saturday 3rd February, 7 pm, Innis Town Hall, University of Toronto, 2 Sussex Ave

Hosted by Forestry Graduate Students’ Association, Bruno Manser Fonds

Toronto coordinator: Ben Filewod (613)

 Prior press coverage


1 thought on “Toronto court pursues hearing on Taib’s finances as activists look on

  1. Here’s a development on the case as of 6 February 2016:

    Canadian court rejects disclosure of Malaysian political family’s financial records

    (TORONTO, CANADA) The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has dismissed an application by the Swiss NGO, the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), for the disclosure of financial data on the Malaysian Taib family’s businesses in Canada.

    BMF had sought a court order requesting four Canadian financial institutions (Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion Bank, Manulife Financial, Deloitte & Touche) to disclose their records on Sakto, a CAD 200 million real estate group controlled by the family of Sarawak Governor Taib Mahmud. BMF is currently preparing a private prosecution of Sakto over allegations of money-laundering.

    “You are asking for greater powers than the police have“, Justice Dunphy said in the court hearing on Monday. “This is taking us into uncharted territory“. The judge dismissed the case strictly on legal arguments and refrained from commenting on the facts.

    Last year, a BMF investigation found that the Taib family had channelled an estimated CAD 70 million into the Sakto Group. The real estate holding is being directed by Jamilah Taib Murray, a daughter of Sarawak Governor Taib Mahmud, and her Canadian husband, Sean Murray.

    “We regret this decision and will have to look for new ways to complement our evidence on the Taib family’s unlawful business activities“, BMF executive director Lukas Straumann said in reaction to the judgement.


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