AN Australian Senate inquiry into foreign bribery will look at money-laundering allegations against the family of Abdul Taib Mahmud, the current Governor and former Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak.
The Australian Senate Economics References Committee has already received a joint submission from the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund and the Australian Bob Brown Foundation that highlights the Taib family’s multi-million dollar real estate transactions in Australia and calls for tighter rules against money-laundering in the Australian real estate sector.
The submission calls for all Taib family assets held in Australia to be frozen and restituted to Sarawak. While the submission names 33 Australian companies with links to the Taib family, particular attention is given to the US$55 million Adelaide Hilton hotel held by the Taibs on the South Australian capital’s Victoria Square.
The submission and its attachments, two NGO reports on Taib corruption, are protected by parliamentary privilege following their release on the Senate Committee’s website. “This means that you cannot be prosecuted or disadvantaged because of anything you have provided in evidence, or because you gave such evidence,” the Committee Secretary stated.
The Bruno Manser Fund welcomed the Australian Senate’s move and called on Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem and the Malaysian authorities to support the tracing and recovery of assets stolen by the Taib family. It is currently unclear how the dissolution of the Australian Parliament ahead of the July 2 election will reflect on the Senate inquiry.