S'pore denies claims made in 'sting' video exposing alleged land graft in Malaysia

Sarawak's chief minister Taib Mahmud, pictured in Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak state on April 16, 2011. Corruption watchdog Transparency International called on Taib, the powerful boss of the Malaysian state of Sarawak, to step aside after a video purportedly linking him to abuse of power went viral online

[UPDATED Friday 10:11AM: Both the Ministry of Finance and Monetary Authority of Singapore have denied the claims made in  the video in a media statement. 

“Contrary to what was claimed in the video, Singapore has, to date, provided fully the information requested by Malaysia for tax purposes. The two countries have had a good working relationship on tax matters, and continue to build on this relationship to strengthen cooperation. In addition, Singapore has designated a wide range of crimes as predicate offences to money laundering — including corruption, bribery and fraud. This is in line with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force.”

Singapore “has been and remains able to provide mutual legal assistance to the fullest extent permitted under our laws where there are requests from Malaysia”, it added.



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Singapore has been implicated in a covert investigation by a London-based NGO into shady land deals in Sarawak involving the state's Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and his family.

In a 16-minute "sting" video titled "Inside Malaysia's Shadow State" shot by Global Witness, investigators posing as foreign investors recorded snippets of their conversation with Taib's cousins and lawyers under the pretext of buying Sarawak land for hefty profit.

In one section around the 9-minute mark, a Sarawak lawyer known as Alvin Chong is shown in what appears to be a hotel room advising the "investor" how to evade real property gains taxes and circumvent the 51-percent Bumiputera equity requirement in Malaysia.

GW: Everybody so far we've spoken to prefers Singapore.

Chong: For some very obvious reasons.

GW: Is there no communication between Singapore and here?

Chong: That's why we choose Singapore. The Singapore government has a China Wall... a firewall. They will not tell the Malaysian government nothing.

GW: Is that because the Malaysian government don't ask them?

Chong: They ask them but they've been turned down. Sorry, it's none of your business... They are the new Switzerland. We operate Singapore accounts too, both personal and corporate entities. 

Watch the conversation around the nine-minute mark.















Sarawak's elite family exposed on shady land deals.Sarawak's elite family exposed on shady land deals.


According to Malaysian news blog, Malaysiakini, Chong alleged represents the Chief Minister's sisters Fatimah Abdul Rahman and Norlia Abdul Rahman, who were recorded in the video describing potentially illegal land deals that would displace thousands of indigenous people.

Parts of the clip aired on the Al-Jazeera news channel earlier this week.

The video has since gone viral with more than 200,000 views since it was posted Tuesday and sparked a flood of online postings calling for Taib's arrest.




Taib, 76, has headed resource-rich Sarawak on Borneo island as chief minister since 1981 and has for years faced -- and denied -- allegations of large-scale corruption and nepotism.

“This film proves for the first time what has long been suspected — that the small elite around Chief Minister Taib are systematically abusing the region’s people and natural resources to line their own pockets,” said Tom Picken, forest team leader at Global Witness, in a statement released on Monday. 

“It shows exactly how they do it and it shows the utter contempt they hold for Malaysia’s laws, people and environment.”


Related stories:

M'sian law association launches investigation
'Sting' video raises pressure on Sarawak Chief Minister
M'sian opposition party demands answers