Sarawak Energy CEO: “I’m taking no stance on corruption in Malaysia”
"From Borneo to Okokrim": Headline of Norwegian weekly Ny Tid, 8 November 2013
OSLO (NORWAY) In a startling interview with the Norwegian weekly, Ny Tid, Torstein Dale Sjotveit, the CEO of Malaysian power supplier, Sarawak Energy, today said he was "not taking a general stance on corruption in Malaysia" and declined that he was personally involved in corruption. The Norwegian weekly quizzed Sjotveit over a complaint lodged last week by the Bruno Manser Fund with Norwayâs anti-corruption agency, Okokrim. Mr. Sjotveit said: "I sleep well at night, both regarding Okokrim and BMF."
Research by the Swiss organization has shown that, during Mr. Sjotveit's tenure as CEO, Sarawak Energy had granted contracts over a minimum of 416 million US dollars to companies with close ties to Sarawak Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud. In October 2013, Sarawak Cable, a company chaired by the Chief Minister's son, Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, was granted two contracts over 196 million US dollars for the construction of powerlines in Sarawak. Under Norwegian law, the countryâs citizens can be held responsible for their involvement in corrupt activities anywhere in the world.
In a personal e-mail exchange with the Bruno Manser Fund, Mr. Sjotveit refused to comment on his company's business ties with Sarawak Cable and other Taib family companies such as Cahya Mata Sarawak and Naim Holdings. He also refused to comment on corruption allegations against Taib Mahmud, who has been Chief Minister of Sarawak since 1981 and is currently under investigation by Malaysia's Anti-Corruption Commission, MACC.
"How can Mr. Sjotveit say he is not taking a stance on corruption in Malaysia if he is working for a Chief Minister who is under investigation?", BMF director Lukas Straumann said. âWe challenge Mr. Sjotveit to publicly clarify if he is working for an honest government or for a corrupt government."
Research by the Bruno Manser Fund has shown that the Taib family have stakes in 400 businesses in 25 countries and offshore finance centres. The family's illicit assets, estimated at 20 billion US dollars, include properties and business interests in Canada, the US, the UK, Australia and Malaysia.
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