Protesters will gather outside the FBI’s US North West Headquarters at the Abraham Lincoln Building in Seattle this Thursday, March 3rd, as part of a series of international actions condemning 30 years of timber corruption under Sarawak Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud. The 74 year old marks his 30th anniversary in power on March 26th and has made clear he plans to run for another term of office in the imminent state elections.
This building is one of the properties owned by the Taib family in North America through a number of companies worth in the region of US$80 million that were run on their behalf by Ross Boyert for 12 years up to 2006. These companies are in turn linked to a massive property company in Ottawa, Canada with a portfolio worth hundreds of millions of dollars and to another company in London, also controlling hundreds of millions of pounds worth of property. The Taibs also own extensive properties in Australia and have a web of global investments.
It was Ross Boyert who helped confirm to Sarawak Report that the ultimate owner of these family property companies run by the Taibs was indeed the Chief Minister himself. This is a fact that Taib has always sought to hide, but Boyert was able to hand us documented proof. We have since frequently asked the Chief Minister to confirm or deny this ownership and to explain how in his role as Chief Minister he could have legitimately earned such enormous wealth.
Boyert had regarded himself as a friend of the Taib family and said he met the Chief Minister and his late wife Laila on a number of occasions. He told us there was never any doubt that it was Taib who was in control of his family’s businesses. He told us that he had not realised until much later that the buildings had been bought out of illegal profits from deforestation.
However, he paid an enormous price for acting as a whistle-blower against the Taibs. They retaliated with a ruthless lawsuit that saw him bankrupted and left homeless and penniless. He and his wife Jonni also complained to Sarawak Report that they had suffered sustained intimidation during the course of that lawsuit, which left them unable to pick up the pieces of their life. Last October, a few weeks after he gave us his story, he was found dead in a rare form of suspected suicide with a bag taped around his head in an LA motel room.
We filmed with the Boyerts and came to like and respect them. We now present that story as a tribute to their bravery in speaking out.