Blog Entry

Indigenous Malaysian Forest Activists Bring Quest for Justice to Canada with Film Tour

Jamie Kneen

National Program Co-Lead

Yes, it's not specifically mining-related, but MiningWatch is deeply concerned about corruption and illegal activity in the mining sector, and that means we are deeply concerned about Canada's role in facilitating corruption, including its apparent inability – or unwillingness – to investigate and prosecute such activity.

Next week a group of indigenous activists from Malaysia, accompanied by the Swiss NGO Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), will travel to Canada to call attention to the decades of clear-cut logging that has razed the rainforests of Borneo and allegedly enriched a Malaysian family accused of money laundering – through a Canadian company.

The alleged money laundering operation is Sakto, an Ottawa real estate firm, which BMF contends was set up by the Taib family to hide the proceeds of corruption tied to logging concessions in Borneo. Last year BMF filed a lawsuit in an Ontario court against RBC, TD, Manulife, and Deloitte seeking information about Sakto’s beneficial ownership and financial flows from Malaysia into the Canadian real estate group. BMF seeks disclosure of those records for a possible private prosecution of Sakto under the Criminal Code, as Canadian authorities have yet to take action themselves. See here for details.

This case also highlights the need for better regulatory controls to prevent money laundering in Canada. For instance, to counter the use of anonymous companies to hide the proceeds of corruption, the government should require that the real owners of companies registered, listed or operating in Canada be publicly disclosed.

Ahead of the court proceedings, the delegation will present screenings of the documentary The Borneo Case, which investigates allegations that profits from the deforestation in Borneo have been laundered through property portfolios around the world:

  • Montreal: Wednesday, January 31, 6:30 pm, Concordia University (see details)
  • Ottawa: Thursday, February 1, 6:30 pm, Mayfair Theatre (see details)
  • Toronto: Saturday, February 3, 7:00 pm, University of Toronto (see details)

The Ottawa screening is co-sponsored by Canadians for Tax Fairness, Inter Pares, and Above Ground.