KUCHING: Singapore has categorically denied video allegations that Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and his family hid their illicit wealth, spawned from “illegal” land deals, in the island republic.
In the covertly shot video by London-based NGO Global Witness, Kuching-based lawyer Alvin Chong had allegedly spoken about “ways” to dodge Real Property Gain Tax (RPGT) in Malaysia and how to circumvent the local laws involving a mandatory 51% Bumiputera stake.
Chong had candidly spoken about “two contracts” to be drawn – one which details minimum payments in Malaysia and the other for the bulk disbursements made in Singapore.
He further allegedly said that Singapore was the next Switzerland and that the republic’s administration “will not tell the Malaysian government nothing…” eventhough the transactions were illegal.
The video, which has gone viral and garnered 440,000 viewers, drew a strong response from Singapore’s Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Both have described the claims in the “sting video” as “simply false”.
Singapore daily Today Online, quoting a statement from the authorities, reported that both Malaysia and Singapore governments had a good working relationship on tax matters.
Singapore, they said, had provided full information on tax matters whenever requested by Malaysia.
“The allegation is simply false. Contrary to what was claimed in the video, Singapore has to date provided fully the information requested by Malaysia for tax purposes.
“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”, they added.
The Global Witness’ video interviewed two lawyers – Chong and Sibu based Huang Lung Ong. The “explicit” chats give one an idea of how deals were inked, funds siphoned out of the country and the extent of Taib’s crony practice.
While Taib has called the video “naughty” and an attempt to “frame” him, the bigger emerging concern here is over the illicit outflow of billions of Malaysian ringgit into and via Singapore aided and abetted by lawyers here.
According to reports, Malaysia has the third largest illicit outflow of funds. Between 2001 and 2010, Malaysia lost RM285 billion.