Hydro Tasmania admits lack of anti-corruption audits in Sarawak dam scheme
(HOBART, TASMANIA) Roy Adair, the CEO of Australian state-owned energy provider Hydro Tasmania, said yesterday his company had no audits in place to prevent Hydro Tasmania's participation in projects that involve corruption.
In an interview with the Australian ABC Radio, Adair admitted that only general âpre-bid checksâ were done on Sarawak Energy, a Malaysian dam builder and business partner, prior to Hydro Tasmania's engagement in a â100 billion dollarâ energy project in Sarawak. He said that ânot so much auditingâ on potential corrupt practices of Sarawak Energy had been done.
Sarawak Energy is owned by the Malaysian state of Sarawak and chaired by Hamed Sepawi, a cousin and close business associate of long-term Sarawak Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud (âTaibâ). Taib is currently under investigation by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) for corruption and abuse of public office. Taib's last major energy project, the 2,400 MW Bakun mega-dam, had been labelled by Transparency International as a âmonument of corruptionâ.
In an attempt to downplay Hydro Tasmania's involvement in Sarawak's dam building spree, Adair said his company role was ârelatively minimalâ as it was only earning 3 million dollars from its Sarawak business. However, Adair failed to acknowledge the central role plaid by Hydro Tasmania engineers such as Andrew Pattle. The latter has been the Project Director of the 944 MW Murum dam, which is currently under construction, and has been appointed as the Senior Project Manager for another two proposed dams, Baram (1,200 MW) and Baleh (1,400 MW). Last year, Pattle said that âsafety and environmental complianceâ were ânot given much importanceâ with dam-building in Malaysia.
The Sarawak dam building spree has drawn heavy criticism from indigenous associations and environmental organizations. The Baram dam alone would displace 20'000 Sarawak natives and flood over 400km2 of tropical rainforests. Yesterday, the Tasmanian Greens called on the Tasmanian Minister for Energy âto recall all of its employees currently involved in environmentally and socially destructive dam building practices in Malaysia.â
Without the expertise of foreign consultants such as Hydro Tasmania, Sarawak Energy would not be in a position to realize its controversial dam plans.
(23 August 2012)
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