Basel, Switzerland, and Ottawa, Canada – 11 February 2019 – Sakto Corporation (‘Sakto’), a mid-size Canadian real estate company located in Ottawa, has filed main civil court proceedings against Swiss NGO Bruno Manser Fonds (‘BMF’).
Following a first procedural hearing at the Basel Civil Court on 7th December 2018, Judge Wolf has expressed a view that an urgent injunction before the civil proceedings is not warranted due in part to the passage of time since the BMF campaign began. However, the importance of this matter has not diminished for Sakto and its principals, and they remain confident that the Court will order the permanent removal of the defamatory material from the public domain after the main civil court proceedings. These proceedings have already been launched.
“Sakto has filed main civil court proceedings and will pursue every legal avenue to restore its reputation and ensure justice is done following BMF’s lengthy and defamatory campaign,” said Thomas Weibel, attorney at law and partner at VISCHER in Switzerland. “The application for an injunction was only the first step in Sakto’s legal action in the Basel civil court. This procedural decision has no bearing on the fundamental underlying merits of Sakto’s claim for defamation against BMF.”
As part of the main civil court proceedings, Sakto has invoked its statutory right which will oblige BMF to account for – by giving access to their financial records – the ways in which they raised money to finance their defamatory campaign. As a result, Sakto also has the legal right to claim so-called “infringer’s profit”, referring to the money that BMF raised in running their lengthy campaign based on suspicion and conjecture.
The Facts Matter
Since 2010 Sakto has endured BMF’s unfounded accusations in the hope that the complete absence of evidence would persuade them to stop. Sakto is now obliged to bring legal action against BMF in Switzerland to put an end to their massive defamation. The application for injunctive relief was the first step in the company’s legal action.
“The facts matter. An NGO should not be beyond the law and must be accountable for their words and actions,” said Thomas Weibel, attorney at law and partner at VISCHER in Switzerland. “Sakto simply wishes for BMF to remove their false and defamatory allegations from the public domain, and to stop their misguided campaign.”
Since 2010, BMF filed and sent eleven complaints and letters across six jurisdictions with various authorities and promoted each action extensively. They have made aggressive use of social media, multiple websites, and blogs to create the impression that their allegations of corruption and money laundering against Sakto are being taken seriously. In fact, there has been no third-party validation of BMF’s allegations, and none of the numerous government agencies BMF has tried to engage has ever taken action against Sakto. In fact, in 2018, the Canadian Department of Justice issued a "cease and desist" letter to BMF to prevent them from continuing to spread false statements that Canada had agreed with their allegations. BMF’s campaign was, and continues to be, based on suspicion and conjecture, rather than facts.
“What BMF and its Executive Director Lukas Straumann want to believe is their private matter,” continued Thomas Weibel. “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.”
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