Taib’s Former US Aide Found Dead (UPDATED)

Sarawak Report is deeply saddened to inform of the tragic and untimely death of Taib Mahmud’s former aid in the United States.  It is speculated that he may have taken his own life, but the Coroner is withholding judgement pending further investigations.

Ross Boyert, aged 60, was found with a bag tied around his head in a Los Angeles hotel room last week.  He leaves a wife and daughter. He had worked for over 12 years as the sole manager of a number of the office blocks and residences owned by the Taib family in San Francisco, California and Seattle, Washington State.  This included the FBI’s top security facility, the Abraham Lincoln Building in Seattle, for which Boyert had been given a maximum personal security clearance to enter.

Taib’s US property interests

As Sarawak Report revealed in a series of recent exposes, Taib Mahmud himself is secretly the majority shareholder of the company Sakti International, which owned much of the real estate managed by Ross Boyert. Officially however, the shareholders were listed as Rahman, Mahmud and Jamilah Taib (his children), along with their uncles Arip and Onn Mahmud, the Chief Minister’s brothers. The sole Director of the Company was first Rahman (Sulaiman) Taib (Taib’s son), and then Sean Murray (his son in law).

Ross worked on a major programme of refurbishing and letting out the Taib properties, particularly a flagship office block at 260 California Street, which runs through the centre of San Francisco.  When Boyert first came to the company it was failing under the management of youthful Rahman Taib (then still a student) and was facing serious debts. Ross was able to turn fortunes round, leaving Sakti with a net worth of US $80 million at the time of his departure in 2006.

Fall out with the Taibs led to Boyert’s destruction

The old boss – Rahman and a family mansion acquired from Samling

Ross Boyert, who was known to be an ‘upbeat, sociable guy’, liked and respected by his staff, apparently saw the destruction of his dreams after falling foul of rivalries between Taib family members.  Details of what happened to him are publicly laid out in lawsuits and counter-lawsuits lodged in the records of the California Superior Court.  These records provided some of the information behind Sarawak Report’s original exposes of Taib’s US property interests.

Sarawak Report has now also come into possession of an extraordinary, 188 page letter sent by Boyert to the Chief Minister himself in November 2006, begging Taib to intercede on his behalf, given his role as the real person in charge of the company.

The letter, addressed to ‘Chief Minister Datuk Padinggi tan Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud’ and FedExed to his residence in Singapore, begins:

“For 12 years I have endeavoured to fulfil my responsibilities as Chief Operating Officer at Sakti International Corporation in a loyal, confidential manner under the most trying of circumstances.  During my tenure Sakti and its affiliates have profited greatly… I estimate the value of the holdings of the Group at US $80 million”

The letter goes on to explain in detail how, relying on an relationship based on close trust with Rahman, Boyert had gone to extreme personal financial risk and effort to rescue the failing business.  In return Rahman had offered him a 50% stake in the profits, by then worth several million US dollars.

New boss – son-in-law Sean Murray sacked Ross and shelved deal based on trust

However, Boyert then explains his dismay when the Taib family reneged on the deal, once the company was secure.  In 2005 Rahman was replaced as sole Director by Taib’s Canadian son-in-law Sean Murray, who then proceeded to sack Boyert without compensation.

Boyert brought a case for unfair dismissal and asked for his promised share of the profits. But, far from gaining Taib’s help and sympathy, Ross later said that the letter provoked a furious reaction against him.

“I was incredibly naive” Boyert told Sarawak Report, “I should have realised that by showing all that I knew about Taib’s involvement in the company I would present a threat in his eyes and invoke his revenge.  We never realised that Taib’s wealth was illegitimate, we  didn’t have Google in those days.  We just assumed that, as the FBI had checked out the company and rented a maximum security facility from the Taibs, everything must be above board”.

‘Campaign to destroy the Boyerts’

Firebombed – the Boyert’s car

After bringing the case against Sakti, thereby revealing the Taib family business interests in the States, the Boyerts claimed they then faced a relentless, well-funded campaign to undermine their reputation and to destroy them financially.  Other victims of the Taibs’ business methods in Sarawak have testified that this is a regular strategy against former associates, particularly those ‘in the know’.

However, the Boyerts say they were innocent of the danger of taking the Taibs to a US court.  The lawyers acting for the Taibs, a high-profile California firm, Howard Rice, warned the Boyerts in writing that if they took any action they would be treated ‘harshly’, but the couple say they failed to understand the implications.

“We thought it was a plain vanilla employment dispute and they would eventually give us some money to go away”, Ross explained.  ”Instead they unleashed the forces of hell on us”.

Over the ensuing years the Boyerts lodged several complaints of personal harrassment against them with their local Atherton Police Station in San Francisco.  They alleged that intimidation practiced against them included numerous tyre slashings, the destruction of their burglar alarm and CTV surveillance systems and a series of break-ins to their home in which damage was inflicted, but little taken.  On two occasions passports and birth certificates were burgled from their papers.

Previously, in 2001, the Boyerts had also suffered the firebombing of their car in their driveway.  They put this down to neighbours who disapproved of their employers.  They said that the social ostracism had added to their problems.

Evicted – the Boyert’s old house has been neglected

Once the legal case had started the Boyerts also alleged they felt they were being followed. Despite frequent changes of mobile phone they would receive bizarre texts and on one occasion the phone rang out the tune by the group The Police, “I am watching you”.  The Boyerts claimed their mobiles were used as trackers by the people trying to intimidate them.  When Sarawak Report journalists visited them in June this year they witnessed how the phone, after being switched off, repeatedly turned itself back on, which is a sign of so-called ‘cloning’ and a form of surveillance. 

The Boyerts by that time were convinced that the purpose of these incidents had been to frighten and discredit them as fantacists.  They ceased to report the incidents and in 2008 they agreed to drop their case in return for a commitment that there would be no further incidents of intimidation.  However they claimed that the harassment had continued and produced photographs of men they believed were following them, saying the same faces would turn up in different places.

The Boyerts believed that this was intimidation sanctioned by the Taibs, however the police failed to be convinced by their ‘bizarre’ allegations.  Other incidents they reported were sinister noises at night, occasions when Ross and later his teenage daughter were driven into the side of the road by aggressive drivers and one frightening incident when Ross’s wife was approached by a man in a restaurant who allegedly tampered with her drink, causing her to pass out on her daughter who had been accompanying her.


[Sarawak Report has been hacked and has been inaccessible for the last two days. Alternatively, this article can be read at: http://hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/10633/]