KUCHING, August 21: The Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) and its executive director Lukas Straumann are said to have run into serious legal disputes following their allegedly lengthy, defamatory campaign against a Canadian firm operated and owned by Sean Murray and Jamilah Taib Murray, a daughter of Sarawak Governor Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.
Sakto Corporation (Sakto), a mid-size Canadian real estate company in Ottawa, today announced it had applied to the Basel Civil Court to obtain an injunction against BMF, a Swiss NGO based in Basel, Switzerland.
The injunction seeks to order BMF to remove from the public domain a litany of false statements and speculative allegations relating to Sakto. In total, there are over 1,100 infringing statements and over 250 publications.
The injunction also seeks to prevent BMF from repeating the defamatory comments.
Sakto claimed it had endured BMF’s unfounded accusations since 2010 with the hope that the complete absence of evidence would persuade them to stop. Sakto added it was now time to act in order to put an end to this “massive defamation”. The application for injunctive relief is the first step in the company’s legal action to re-establish the facts and restore its reputation, it added.
“The facts matter. An NGO should not be beyond the law and must be accountable for their words and actions.
“Sakto simply wishes for BMF to remove their false and defamatory allegations from the public domain and to stop their misguided campaigns,” said Thomas Weibel, attorney at law and partner at VISCHER in Switzerland, in a statement today.
Since 2010, BMF had filed and sent 11 complaints and letters across six jurisdictions with various authorities and promoted each action extensively.
They have also allegedly made aggressive use of social media, multiple websites, and blogs to create the impression that their allegations of corruption and money laundering against Sakto were being taken seriously. It is said that there had been no third-party validations of BMF’s allegations, and none of the numerous government agencies BMF had tried to engage had ever taken action against Sakto.
Last year, BMF took legal steps against Sakto in Ontario, Canada. The NGO applied for an unusual court order seeking to force four financial institutions to divulge financial and private information regarding the company: They had hope these would support BMF’s suspicions. BMF submitted volumes of information to the court, and Straumann was cross-examined.
The Superior Court of Justice in Ontario, however, dismissed the case last Feb 5 by ruling that “(the allegations) depend upon conjecture and suspicion more than evidence”. BMF was ordered to pay more than CAD176,000 (CHF 134,000) in costs by the court, in addition to their own legal costs.
The Canadian Department of Justice also issued a “cease and desist” letter to BMF to prevent them from continuing to spread false statements that Canada had agreed with their allegations.
“What BMF and its executive director Lukas Straumann want to believe is their private matter.
“However, it is unacceptable to publicly repeat their untruthful theories about Sakto and to present them as facts. Their actions are unlawful and seriously violate the personal rights of Sakto and its principals,” said Weibel. — DayakDaily