In the latest development on the case against two judicial officers, Ramzidah binti Pehin Datu Kesuma Diraja Retired Colonel Hj Abdul Rahman and Haji Nabil Daraina bin Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Badaruddin. Jonathan Caplan QC, highlighted the unusual and disturbing feature of this case in that the Defendants committed the alleged offences at the time when they were serving judges. The First Defendant was appointed as a Registrar of the Supreme Court on the 2nd of July 1997 and conferred with the powers of Deputy Official Receiver.

It is the Prosecution's case that the First Defendant only declared dividends in 11 out of the 255 files despite the fact that there were ample funds to do so. The debtors were simply left to continue making payments into their accounts to pay off their debt whilst the First Defendant withdrew large sums from those accounts for her benefit. Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam, BIBD noticed the failure of the First Defendant to give instructions to the bank to prepare cheques for the declaration of dividends, and have on occasion wrote to her stating that there were sufficient funds in those accounts inclusive of the cash withdrawals made on various dates. In response to some of these letters, she informed the Bank that the cash withdrawn were held in Fixed Deposit Accounts.

Jonathan Caplan QC further emphasized the extent of the First Defendant's action in making withdrawals from judgment debtor accounts by giving an example of the First Defendant closing an Official Receiver's account at Perbadanan Tabung Amanah Islam Brunei, TAIB which held 504 thousand 557 dollars by giving instructions to prepare a cheque in that amount. That cheque, however, was not used to declare any dividends. It was used to be deposited into a new account at BIBD after which, she then made a withdrawal to the amount of 503-thousand dollars for her own use.

The Prosecution intends to call tellers of BIBD who attended to the First Defendant on various occasions over the period between 2004 and 2017 and processed the withdrawal transactions from the Official Receivers' account to testify in Court.

Over the period between November 2012 and December 2017, BIBD has dispensed 194 pieces of 10-thousand dollar banknotes to the First Defendant of which 98 pieces were traced as having been later deposited into the joint account of the Defendants at the Standard Chartered Bank, SCB, 46 pieces can be traced as having been used by the Defendants to purchase cars and 5 pieces were exchanged at SCB by the First Defendant to smaller denominations

An expert in document and handwriting analysis will testify in Court to attest to her opinion that the cash withdrawal slips were signed by the First Defendant.

In respect of the First Defendant's claim that the monies withdrawn were held in Fixed Deposit accounts, the Prosecution will show that no details of these accounts have been given by her or entered into the relevant bankruptcy files.

According to Jonathan Caplan QC, within a short period of time of a cash withdrawal from BIBD, a smaller but significant amount of cash was paid into the Defendant's joint account at SCB. In demonstrating this, he quoted an instance on the 11th of May 2015 when the First Defendant withdrew 595-thousand dollars which included 52 pieces of 10-thousand dollar notes and on the following day, 19 pieces of those 10-thousand dollar notes were used by the Second Defendant as part cash payment with QAF Eurokars for the purchase of a Porsche 911 Carrera GTS. This act forms one of the money laundering offences which the Second Defendant was charged with.

The Prosecution also relies on the analysis by an investigator of of the Anti-Corruption Bureau which found that often times, both the Defendants would travel to the United Kingdom after a substantial cash deposit was made into their joint account at SCB, subsequent to cash withdrawals from BIBD. They would also often send a telegraphic transfer to their accounts at HSBC in the United Kingdom.

An investigation into the Defendants' financial position revealed that their only legitimate source of income were their salaries at the Judiciary Department.

It is the Prosecution's case that the Defendants were in control of properties that were disproportionate to their income or emoluments as public officers. These properties included cars valued at about 1.288 million dollars in the First Defendant's possession, cars valued at about 1.836 million dollars in the Second Defendant's possession, designer handbags and shoes valued at about 429-thousand dollars and watches valued at 152-thousand dollars.

The First Defendant has also said in her statement to the investigators that she received about 5 million dollars from a foreign lady in connection with assisting her in the execution of a confidential agreement. At the heart of the Second Defendant's defence is that he believed the First Defendant received those monies from her arrangements with a foreign lady. However, the Prosecution submitted to the Court that the foreign lady has denied she knows or has ever met the First Defendant or that she has ever paid the First Defendant any money.

The Prosecution intends to call 88 witnesses first from the Judiciary Department, followed by bank officers, car dealers, officers from the Anti-Corruption Bureau, an officer from the Royal Brunei Police Force, expert witnesses and a witness to rebut the claim by the First Defendant that she received 5 million dollars from a foreign lady. Simon Farrell QC informed the Court that the Defence may be able to reduce the number of witnesses for the Prosecution to call, subject to agreement with all parties.

Source: Radio Television Brunei