New corruption scandal rocks Sarawak Energy
Corrupt couple: Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud (left), son Abu Bekir Taib
KUCHING, MALAYSIA, April 2, 2012 /WORLD-WIRE/. Torstein Dale Sjotveit, the Norwegian CEO of Malaysian state-owned energy supplier, Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB), is facing corruption allegations following the disclosure of public contracts on the 900 MW Murum dam in Malaysian Borneo, which is currently under construction.
According to the whistleblower website Sarawak Report, a public contract worth 99 million Malaysian Ringgit (USD 32 million) has been given out by Sarawak Energy to Universal Cable (Sarawak) in November 2010 for the construction of a 275 Kilovolt power transmission line to the Murum dam site. Universal Cable's largest shareholder is Abu Bekir Taib ("Bekir"), the eldest son of Sarawak's long-term Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud. Bekir controls at least 42% of Universal Cables's shareholdings.
Under Sjotveit's directorship, Sarawak Energy also sold its manufacturing subsidiary, Sawarja Timur Sdn Bhd, to Sarawak Cable, another company controlled by Bekir. Since 2008, Sarwaja Timur has been awarded public contracts worth over 320 million Ringgits (USD 104 million) linked to the construction of the state's controversial dams program.
As a state-owned company, Sarawak Energy is ultimately controlled by Bekir's father, Chief Minister Taib Mahmud. Sarawak Energy chairman Hamed Sepawi is the cousin of the Chief Minister. As the CEO of Sarawak Energy, Torstein Dale Siotveit acts as a go-between for the three key members of the Taib clan, Taib Mahmud, Hamed Sepawi and Abu Bekir Taib.
"By all international standards, these transactions are blatant corruption that must not be tolerated", the Bruno Manser Fund commented the latest disclosure by Sarawak Report. "Mr. Sjotveit's conduct with Sarawak Energy is appalling and should be investigated immediately by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC). We are also calling on the Norwegian authorities to examine if Mr. Sjotveit's actions are punishable under the country's anti corruption legislation."
Last week, Sarawak Energy already faced a blow when Australian mining giant Rio Tinto Alcan, cancelled its USD 2 billion plans for an aluminium smelter in Sarawak. It is believed that the local authorities' excessive corruption might have been an important reason for the Rio Tinto pull-out.
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