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WWF asked to cut ties with corrupt Malaysian loggers

The Bruno Manser Fund and the Australian Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown, are calling on the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) to suspend its cooperation with the Malaysian Ta Ann group for its close association with the Taib family, one of South East Asia's largest corruption networks.

In a letter to WWF International's General Director, James P. Leape, the Bruno Manser Fund is claiming that the Malaysian Ta Ann Holdings and its subsidiaries are "unfit for a cooperation" with the WWF "because of their close association with the Malaysian Taib family, one of South East Asia's largest corruption networks". Ta Ann is also mentioned for being "the major driver for high conservation value forest destruction" in Tasmania.

According to the Bruno Manser Fund, the Taib family has damaged the tropical rainforests of Borneo in unprecedented ways and is responsible for the systematic disposession of Sarawak's indigenous communities.

Ta Ann is one of 49 companies blacklisted by the Bruno Manser Fund for its close links with the Taibs. The company is controlled by Hamed Sepawi, a cousin of the Sarawak Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud ("Taib") and by Wahab Dolah, a Member of the Malaysian Parliament for Taib's party, PBB. The group controls 362'000 hectares of logging concessions and 313'000 hectares of plantation concessions in the East Malaysian state of Sarawak.

"All these concessions have been granted by Ta Ann chairman Hamed Sepawi's cousin without public tender. Ta Ann's wealth is thus entirely based on corruption and its chairman continues to be one of Taib's closest business cronies and allies." Apart from chairing Ta Ann, Hamed Sepawi is also head of Naim Cendera, a construction company that is benefitting massively from Sarawak state contracts, and chairman of Sarawak Energy, the state's power supply monopolist.

Last month, the British NGO Global Witness had criticized the WWF's partnership with Ta Ann despite the group's responsibility for large-scale logging in the Heart of Borneo, one of the WWF's priority conservation regions.

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