The Prosecution continued its case against Ramzidah binti Pehin Datu Kesuma Diraja Retired Colonel Hj Abdul Rahman and Hj Nabil Daraina bin Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Badaruddin in the High Court yesterday by calling three witnesses.

The first witness called by the Prosecution is a retired Judicial Officer, who was a former Intermediate Court Judge who had also previously carried out duties as a Deputy Official Receiver. She gave evidence on procedures relating to the practices dealing with Official Receivers’ accounts during her time, particularly how Official Receivers’ accounts are usually opened, such as with cases where the debtor is a public servant, the Official Receiver’s account will be opened in a savings account with the bank where the debtor’s monthly salary is paid to. For cases where the debtor is not a public servant or does not receive a fixed monthly salary to a bank, they would make an initial cash payment, to which a receipt would be issued, which would then be used to open the Official Receiver’s account as the first deposit.

She also elaborated on how a dividend is declared, including testifying that while she was still working as a DOR, she would never pay dividends to creditors in cash as it was burdensome, and that she would make payments by cheque, and the creditors would collect said cheques from her personally.

She gave further evidence on how opening an OR fixed deposit account was not common practice, but that there were certain situations where opening an FDA was done. For example, in one case, where a debtor failed to pay regularly into the OR account set up, causing the account to become dormant and dormant fees were incurred. To avoid further fees, the savings account is closed and the closing balance is used to open up the FDA. She further stated that it was possible for this process to be arranged via a written request to the bank, such instructions would always be filed with the documentation in the bankruptcy file. She also stated that opening an FDA was also done in cases where large sums of money had been accumulated but not enough to declare a sizable dividend.

In his cross-examination of the first witness, Simon Farrell, QC, put forward that as there were no internal written rules or guidelines when dealing with bankruptcy cases, DORs had the discretion as to how to deal with their bankruptcy cases, including the opening of FDAs. He also asserted that different DORs would often operate differently and deal with their cases in their own way.

The Prosecution called an officer from the State Judiciary Department who is the Head of the IT Section as the second witness. She testified that in the late afternoon of 8th January 2019, she received instructions to deactivate the Defendants’ JCMS account which she did so and it was only on the following day that she was informed of the investigations by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on the Defendants. As part of her evidence, she introduced documents which she had printed off from the JCMS which are letters from BIBD stating the current balance in the relevant OR bank account notwithstanding the withdrawals made on several dates. One of the documents shown in Court contained the annotation “Monies in FD”.

A third witness was called, an assistant financial officer with the State Judiciary Department who gave evidence on receiving cash payments from debtors. According to him, he has previously come across letters from BIBD stating that there are cash withdrawals made from OR accounts. He further elaborated that he has not seen any other DOR make cash withdrawals from OR’s accounts under their control apart from those under the First Defendant’s supervision. The witness also produced a cash deposit slip to the amount of $68,000 which he had deposited into an account in BIBD under the First Defendant’s name upon her instructions. In cross-examination, Simon Farrell QC argued that the account was in fact an Official Receiver’s account and not her personal account. In reply, the witness said he did not have such knowledge.

The Prosecution’s fourth witness was present in Court. However, prior to beginning her evidence, Simon Farrell QC informed the Court that the Second Defendant was unwell and applied for the hearing to be adjourned for the day. The Honourable Justice Gareth John Lugar- Mawson granted the application.

The trial will continue on Tuesday, 24th of September at 9 in the morning.

Jonathan Caplan QC and DPPs Hjh Suhana Hj Sudin, Hjh Suriana Hj Radin, Dk Didi- Nuraza Pg Abdul Latiff and Muhammad Qamarul Affyian bin Abdul Rahman appeared for the Public Prosecutor. Simon Farrell, QC and Sheikh Noordin Sheikh Mohammad, appeared for the defendants.

Source: Radio Television Brunei