New Democrat (Monrovia)

Liberia: Logging Tycoon Never Visited Liberia

The Atlantic Resources Ltd has clarified reports that Taib's cousin, the logging tycoon and key political figure Hamed Sepawi, has been booted out of Liberia by a Presidential decree to halt corrupt and illegal logging.

In a release issued in Monrovia in reaction to a report quoting a Malaysian newspaper, the Chronicle, the managing director of Atlantic Resources, Dong Chun Han, categorically stated that neither Mr. Hamed Sepawia, the logging giant, nor any other shareholder of the company has ever set foot in Liberia, therefore reports of expulsion or the attending conclusion "are entirely false and intended to besmear the company's reputation."

The Malaysian Chronicle pointed out that the purported expulsion was another blow to the Sarawak potentate's international reputation, following condemnation in the Swiss Parliament.

According to the Chronicle, Sepawi's company Perkapalan Damai Timar (PDT) is a 60% shareholder of Atlantic Resources Limited, which has been exposed as a major culprit involved in corrupt practices and illegal logging that was set to destroy a quarter of Africa's most heavily forested country.

But the Monrovia management of Atlantic Resources said while "it is true that Mr. Hamed Sepawi holds a minority share in PDT, the above named company, itself has less than 10 % shares in Atlantic Resources."

The Chronicles report, published in the NEW DEMOCRAT stated that another key Sarawak company caught up in the scandal is the notorious destroyer of the Borneo Jungle, Samling, which has been exposed as the bankroller behind the venture, working hand in glove with Hamed Sepawi and PDT.

"This African scandal brings international attention to the fact that Taib's crony timber companies, which gained huge financial strength through their exploitation of Sarawak, have gone on to create global problems. Samling, Ta Ann, Rimbunan Hijau and WTK are all regarded by ENGOs as a worldwide menace in terms of corrupt practices and their disregard for communities and the environment.

The Malaysia Chronicle did not say the Atlantic Resources has been expelled by the Liberian government as was suggested by the Monrovia management of the company, hence the ardent necessity to send its smear campaign against our report in the gutter.

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