Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Hypocrisy at its Worst: Anti-Corruption Hero Clare Rewcastle Made Marionette for Big Money?

Exclusive: British blogger and nature advocate, Clare Rewcastle Brown who dedicated her life work to battle corruption and saving the forests of Malaysia, is being sponsored by a wood exporting Swiss tycoon.  

According to new evidence, recently presented to Corruption Watchers by our sources, for the last few years, hundreds of thousands of euros were secretly channeled into Brown's business bank account, with the mysterious donor being Swiss billionaire Martin O. Pestalozzi.

What does this magnate from Switzerland have to do with a London based free-lance journalist who protects nature?   

Clare Rewcastle Brown is probably known best for her belligerent coverage of the deforestation phenomenon in Malaysia over the pages of her blog, Sarawak Report. Throughout the years she has revealed countless occurrences of corruption and misconduct, fighting for the environment and for justice. Another "quality" Brown is well-known for is her a total and utter vagueness surrounding her funding sources, the shocking revelations now clarify the reason behind this ambiguity.  
  
The perturbing new evidence reveals that Pestalozzi himself is the co-founder and owner of an international company exporting the tropical precious wood called Teak. Pestalozzi's company not so hidden goal is obtaining monopoly over the global Teak market or in their words: "become of the preferred suppliers of manufacturers around the world" (According to our source, the majority of the blog's revenue is constituted of Pestalozzi's hefty grants).  
But what role exactly does Brown play in Pestalozzi's "wood cartel"?





Ms. Brown and her noble (?) cause

Clare Rewcastle Brown, a well-known British investigative journalist and blogger was born in 1960, colonial Sarawak (nowadays federal state of Malaysia), to this day Brown holds a special place in her heart for the Southeast Asian country, as it clearly shows in her agenda and  her day to day "journalistic" work.

In 2010, Clare has founded the Sarawak Report, a highly acclaimed anti-corruption blog, that alongside its sister organization, Radio Free Sarawak, serves as a platform meant to bring corruption in Malaysia to light and to give a voice for those being denied the access to the media in their own country.

Since then, Sarawak Report and Brown as its Editor-In-Chief have been at the forefront of exposing the logging and timber related corruption in Malaysia . Brown used to write exclusively about the environment in Sarawak and what she sees as political connections and corruption related to the destruction of the land. For the last couple of years Brown's most covered topic on her blog was the 1Malaysia Development Berhad Scandal (1MDB), as alleged, the affair involving Malaysia's Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, who supposedly channeled over RM2.67 billion (approx. USD 700 million) from a government-run strategic development company fund to his personal bank accounts. Brown's fierce and uncompromising investigative efforts  won her in July 2015 the dubious honor of being the first news site to be officially blocked in Malaysia by the governmental censors.  

But where does the money come from?

As we Corruption Watchers know best, fighting corruption sometimes can be a "luxury" of sorts. Though spiritually and communally rewarding, extremely rare are the instances in which one is actually able make a living out of it. As the best majority of justice fighters do what they do voluntarily and willingly out of ideology, most of them (within the working age) also have full time jobs.

One of Sarawak Report's most noted qualities as a blog is its frequency of publication (4-7 pieces a week to be precise), this high rate combined with the fact Clare often partakes in non-profitable projects (the amazing "The Borneo Case" documentary for example) begs the inevitable question: how is Ms. Brown financially able to continue her devoted work with no other income? You may assume that the "make a donate" section in her site could solve this riddle but as you will find out shortly, there is a completely different opera here.      
Brown's source of revenue remained a mystery throughout the years, whenever she was asked about it by the media the answers provided were always short, vague and evasive.
Clear example of Brown's ambiguous and furtive behavior surrounding her funding can be showed during a trip abroad (September 2016) when Brown was asked about her funding by a Malaysian reporter she replied: "I have done some travels, and that is largely being funded by my radio project for which I did have a grant from a European based donor, who was donating on rainforest and human rights issues".




The Journalist, the Swiss Billionaire and the NGO

As stated by our source, the words Brown chose to describe her "one-time" donor resonate well with a certain Swiss NGO, one she have been publicly cooperating with for years - Bruno Manser Fonds. The aim of this Basel based organization, named after its long lost founder and the famous environmental activist Bruno Manser, is to "stand for fairness in the tropical rainforests" and "to respect all human rights". With BMF's projects and campaigns focusing mainly in Switzerland and Malaysia (Sarawak) it was only natural for a strong bond to be formed between Brown and Lukas Straumann, BMF's Executive Director. Over the years those two had some very successful collaborations, "The Borneo Case" movie and Strauman's book from 2014, "Money Logging: On the Trail of the Asian Timber Mafia" are just a drop in the sea of this fruitful duo.
But how exactly this heaven-made match occurred?, the answer seems to reside with the recent rather concerning materials provided to Corruption Watchers by our sources.
Other than sharing the same spirit and ideology, Brown and BMF happen to share another major element – the same generous and secretive sponsor, the Swiss billionaire, Martin Otto Pestalozzi.


Born in 1931 ,Zurich and with estimated net worth of  1.25 Billion Swiss Francs (USD 1.28 Billion), Mr. Pestalozzi has founded a financial entity named the "Pestalozzi Heritage Foundation" (PHF), which states the protection of rainforests and fighting corruption as its main goals.
Surprisingly enough, both Brown and the Bruno Manser Fonds organization are part of PHF's very exclusive (and rather short) beneficiary list. The one thing that drew our attention most when we began going over the documents was the fact that over the course of only 3 years (between 2012 and 2015) Pestalozzi via his foundation has donated Brown with over 500,000 euros (!!!). The transfers were made through Brown's company – "Lost World productions limited". We could not help ourselves from wondering why are the sums so ridiculously high and what does Pestalozzi get out of it except for a clear "ecological conscience"? – The answers are surprising.


Pestalozzi's interest/ Brown's Hypocrisy

You may think that long retired Pestalozzi's only sin is being a philanthropic old fella who shares his hard-earned wealth with those who try to save nature while fighting corruption, but then again, evidence recently presented to Corruption Watchers indicate otherwise.
The documents in our possession show that except from financially aiding Brown and BMF, Pestalozzi as an entrepreneur has another grand environmental project – the Novelteak company, started in 1989 with the goal of becoming an alternative Teak wood exporter and counterweight deforestation, this ambitious corporation desires to replace the existing traditional Teak exporters and to become the largest and most preferred traders of manufactures all around the world.

Let's take a step back and explain the shady connection between Novelteak Malaysia and Ms. Brown life work; Teak is a tropical tree indigenous to South East Asia, as of today most Teak comes from managed plantations in India, Indonesia and Malaysia. Malaysian Teak tree is considered of the highest quality in the world due to its texture, color and hardness. Another interesting and relevant fact about the Malaysian teak – most of its plantations are being owned by the government and semi-governmental agencies.

After putting the pieces of the puzzle together you can clearly see now why Brown investigative work is very beneficial for Martin Pestalozzi.  By non-stop targeting of Malaysian officials and the daily criticizing of the deforestation in the country Brown sabotages Malaysia's legitimacy as a traditional wood exporter, by that actually serving Novelteak main objective – eliminating competition in the Teak exporting field.




By doing she does that Brown has blatantly desecrated one of the core principles of journalism – Independence.
Journalists must be independent voices; we should not act, formally or informally, on behalf of special interests whether political, corporate or cultural. We should declare our editor – or the audience- any of our political affiliations, financial arrangements or other personal information that might constitute a conflict of interest.

Another major principle Ms. Brown violates regularly by promoting Pestalozzi's agenda is Impartiality, as most stories have at least two sides there is no obligation to present every side in every piece, stories should be balanced and add context. Objectivity is not always possible, and may not always be desirable, but impartial reporting is crucial to building trust serving the facts.    

Clare Rewcasle Brown is obviously no stranger to hypocrisy and two-facedness and as a justice advocate you would expect her to keep a safe distance from everything that even hints towards dishonesty, The towers of secrecy Brown used to cover  her funding and donors begs the following questions, what other hidden skeletons does she have in her closet? Are there other interests being served by her seemingly legitimate work?
   
We truly hope that Ms. Brown is fighting her battles unknowingly of Pestalozzi business, but as the evidence piled up on our desk we find that possibility to be quite far-fetched. We strongly demand that Brown will go out publicly and declare that she would not accept further donations/payments from Martin O. Pestalozzi. That is the least we expect from a veteran journalist such as her.
We have tried to contact Ms. Brown several times for her response prior to publishing the piece, unfortunately without success.  

7 comments:

  1. This blog and article is paid rubbish by the corrupt Najib Razak regime aimed at creating confusion. Why don't you analyse and dissect the findings of the US DOJ filings on 1MDB point by point? Those are facts, not this shameful rubbish

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sarawak Report readers are fully aware of the dishonesty of this website and the people behind it - sad that the Malaysian nation is being weakened by extreme corruption - fake news publications like this website being part of the game.

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  3. Diverionary straregy to sway attention away from the world's biggest kleptocrat. We are not easily fooled.

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  4. Why do your stories have no date on them? It looks like they were all uploaded at the same time.

    ReplyDelete
  5. their story is bullshit..thtss why no date..paid by najibis...

    ReplyDelete
  6. The theory that Ms Rewcastle-Brown publishes Sarawak Report and exposes theft at 1MDB just to reduce teak exports out of Malaysia is laughable.

    Whoever wrote this rubbish must be immature and uneducated.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a pathetic attempt to discredit a true hero. Obviously corruption Watchers is totally corrupt!

    ReplyDelete

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