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Malaysia governor may be worth $15 billion

Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud (Photo courtesy of http://chiefministertaib.sarawak.gov.my)The long-time leader of Malaysia’s largest state who was featured in undercover footage shot by NGO Global Witness may be one of Asia’s richest people.

Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, 77, has earned a modest government salary as Sarawak’s ruler for more than thirty years.

But he and his family apparently control some of Malaysia’s biggest companies.

He has a Rolls Royce and an executive jet, according to an AFP report.

Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund estimates Mahmud’s worth at $15 billion. That would make him Malaysia’s richest person.

Since Global Witness released a video in March that appeared to show corrupt practices by Mahmud and his family, investigators from NGOs and media outlets have targeted him.

Mahmud is a key member of Barisan Nasional, Malaysia’s ruling coalition for more than 50 years. With his help, BN won an election this month to retain power. Opposition parties are protesting what they called voting fraud.

A 2008 U.S. State Department cable leaked by WikiLeaks called Mahmud ‘highly corrupt,’  AFP said.

Global Witness said he controls all ‘land classification, forestry and plantation licenses’ in Sarawak state, which exports more tropical logs than South America and Africa combined.

The 16-minute Global Witness video is here.

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