Hydro Tasmania admits lack of anti-corruption audits in "100 billion dollar" Sarawak dam scheme
23rd August 2012 – for immediate release
Roy Adair, CEO of Hydro Tasmania, confirms company's involvement in controversial Malaysian rainforest dam constructions – Hydro Tasmania downplays compliance deficits of Sarawak Energy, its Malaysian business partner
(HOBART, TASMANIA) Roy Adair, the CEO of Australian state-owned energy provider Hydro Tasmania, said yesterday his company had no audits in place to prevent Hydro Tasmania’s participation in projects that involve corruption.
In an interview with the Australian ABC Radio, Adair admitted that only general “pre-bid checks” were done on Sarawak Energy, a Malaysian dam builder and business partner, prior to Hydro Tasmania’s engagement in a “100 billion dollar” energy project in Sarawak. He said that “not so much auditing” on potential corrupt practices of Sarawak Energy had been done.
Sarawak Energy is owned by the Malaysian state of Sarawak and chaired by Hamed Sepawi, a cousin and close business associate of long-term Sarawak Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud (“Taib”). Taib is currently under investigation by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) for corruption and abuse of public office. Taib’s last major energy project, the 2,400 MW Bakun mega-dam, had been labelled by Transparency International as a “monument of corruption”.
In an attempt to downplay Hydro Tasmania’s involvement in Sarawak’s dam building spree, Adair said his company role was “relatively minimal” as it was only earning 3 million (Australian) dollars from its Sarawak projects. However, Adair failed to acknowledge the central role played by Hydro Tasmania engineers such as Andrew Pattle. The latter has been the Project Director of the 944 MW Murum dam, which is currently under construction, and has been appointed as the Senior Project Manager for another two proposed dams, Baram (1,200 MW) and Baleh (1,400 MW). Last year, Pattle said that “safety and environmental compliance” were “not given much importance” with dam-building in Malaysia.
The Sarawak dam building spree has drawn heavy criticism from indigenous associations and environmental organizations. The Baram dam alone would displace 20’000 Sarawak natives and flood over 400km2 of tropical rainforests. Yesterday, the Tasmanian Greens called on the Tasmanian Minister for Energy “to recall all of its employees currently involved in environmentally and socially destructive dam building practices in Malaysia."
Without the expertise of foreign consultants such as Hydro Tasmania, Sarawak Energy would not be in a position to realize its controversial dam plans.
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