Activists have petitioned the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund to drop its investment in a company they say is linked to large-scale corruption in the Malaysian state of Sarawak.
In a letter published this week, the Switzerland-based Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) and Norway-based FIVAS recommended that Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global sell its $11 million stake in Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS), a Sarawak-based infrastructure majority-owned by relatives of former Sarawak chief minister and current governor Taib Mahmud. The holdings represent 2 percent of CMS.
The grounds for the recommendation: corruption. Norway’s pension fund includes guidelines to exclude a company that has “an unacceptable risk” of being “involved in corruption”.
A recent report published by BMF alleged that CMS received state contracts worth $1.4 billion while Taib was chief minister of Sarawak. Under his reign, the state-run CMS was privatized, with control of the company assumed by Taib’s relatives.
BMF’s executive director Lukas Straumann says the large contracts granted to CMS under Taib “can only be explained by massive corruption, which has deeply penetrated Sarawak’s corridor of power”.
Forest cover status in Sarawak, Sabah, and Brunei as of 2009.Bryan et al 2013.
Were Norway’s pension fund to sell its stake in CMS, it wouldn’t be the first such divestment. The fund has already blacklisted Sarawak’s three largest logging companies and several palm oil companies that major operations in the state due to concerns they were responsible for “severe environmental damage”.
Money Logging, a book recently published Lukas Straumann, the head of the Bruno Manser Fund, asserts that Taib and his family amassed billions of dollars in unexplained assets during his more than 30 years as head of state. Taib has been under investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) since 2011.