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BMF files corruption complaint in Norway

The Bruno Manser Fund has lodged a corruption complaint in Norway against Torstein Dale Sjøtveit, the CEO of Sarawak Energy Bhd, with Norway's anti-graft watchdog, Økokrim, over irregularities related to the so-called "Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy" (SCORE). The Bruno Manser Fund's complaint has been reported last Saturday by Dagbladet, one of Norway's largest newspapers, which ran a story entitled "Natives furious with Norwegian dambuilder". www.dagbladet.no/2012/10/18/nyheter/damprosjekt/damutbygging/okokrim/dam/23935155/

According to information received by the Bruno Manser Fund, in November 2010, Sarawak Energy Bhd under its CEO Sjøtveit granted power transmission line contracts over MYR 99 mio. (USD 31.8 mio.) to Universal Cable, a company whose key shareholder is Abu Bekir Taib, the son of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud. Also in 2010, Sarawak Energy sold parts of its profitable manufacturing subsidiary, Sawarja Timur, to Universal Cable.

Furthermore, in January 2012, three Malaysian banks issued Islamic bonds worth MYR 2.5 billion (USD 803 mio.) on behalf of Sarawak Energy. One of these banks was Kenanga Investment bank, a subsidiary of K&N Kenanga Holdings, which is a joint venture between the Taib family and Deutsche Bank. The Bruno Manser Fund's complaint is, on this point, backed by an investigation by Dutch research company Profundo.

In a report commissioned by the Bruno Manser Fund, Profundo writes over the funding of Sarawak Energy's dam-building spree: "In January 2012, the second issuance [of bonds] under the Sukuk Musharakah Programme was managed by three Malaysian banks:

AmInvestment Bank
Kenanga Investment Bank
RHB Investment Bank

Two tranches totalling RM 2.5 billion were issued with maturity dates in 2022 and 2027. Proceeds were destined to fund the progress payments of some of its power plants and transmission lines under construction as well as other capital expenditure requirement."

The Bruno Manser Fund's complaint follows up on a similar complaint lodged by Sarawak's Save Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) with the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission MACC in September 2012. Under Norway's tough anti-corruption laws, Norwegian citizens can be held responsible for corruption committed anywhere in the world.

Mr. Sjøtveit refuted the Bruno Manser Fund's allegations and claimed that Sarawk Energy had "an open, competitive tender process" and that "the question of ownership" of companies that Sarawak Energy was dealing with was "completely irrelevant". (Dagbladet, 18 October 2012, please find full quote below).

The Bruno Manser Fund is highly alarmed by Mr. Sjøtveit's claim that the question of ownership of the companies Sarawak Energy is dealing with should be "completely irrelevant" and asks Økokrim and the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission to interrogate Mr. Sjøtveit without delay on his dealings with Taib family-linked companies.

The Bruno Manser Fund also calls on Sarawak Energy to immediately release all finance arangements behind its dam-building program as well as all feasibility studies, social and environmental impact assessments and other relevant documents.


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Full quote of Mr. Sjøtveit's comment on the Bruno Manser Fund's corruption allegations as published by Dagbladet on 18 October 2012:

"Sarawak Energy has an open, competitive tender process, which ensures the company the best results. The question of ownership is completely irrelevant. Sarawak Energy gives out thousands of contracts each year and more than 100 of those are worth more than 10 million Norwegian kroners [1.7 mio. USD]." (Dagbladet, 18 October 2012).

(Quote in the Norwegian original): «Sarawak Energy har en åpen, konkurransepreget anbudsprosess som sikrer selskapet de beste resultater. Spørsmålet om eierforhold er fullstendig irrelevant. Sarawak Energy gir tusenvis av kontrakter hvert år og mer enn 100 av disse, er verd mer en ti millioner norske kroner»

Link to Norwegian ant-graft watchdog Økokrim: www.okokrim.no/artikler/in-english

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