Trial against Two Former Judicial Officers Continues

The trial 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 Awang Badaruddin resumed yesterday in the High Court. The Anti-Corruption Bureau officer investigating into the money laundering offences currently alleged against the Defendants continued to give her evidence. The investigating officer analysed the telegraphic transfers or T.T made from the defendants' joint bank account in Brunei Darussalam to their bank accounts in the United Kingdom. These transfers were usually made after substantial cash deposits were made into the Defendants' local bank account which was approximately close to the withdrawals from Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) Official Receivers (OR) accounts made by the First Defendant. The total amount transferred from September 2011 until December 2017 to the United Kingdom was one million, three hundred seventy four thousand, two hundred twelve hundreds and eighty five cents.

Investigations into the Defendants' travel history shows that whenever T.T transactions are made to the United Kingdom, they would travel there immediately after. For example, a transfer was made on 14th of December 2016, they left on 17th of December 2016 for the United Kingdom. A transfer was also made on 12th December 2017 and they travelled to the United Kingdom on 18th December 2017. Simon Farrell QC stressed that the First Defendant went to the United Kingdom alone without the Second Defendant on the 4th of March 2017 after a T.T transaction was done on the 1st of March 2017.

CCTV recordings at Standard Chartered Bank, SCB were also analysed. The First Defendant withdrew 226 thousand from O.R accounts on the 24th of May 2017. On the 6th of June 2017, the Defendants deposited into their joint account a total of 30 thousand dollars. Two days later, they deposited 30 thousand dollars through the Cash Deposit Machine, C.D.M and the Second Defendant deposited another 20 thousand dollars.

A total of 442 thousand dollars was withdrawn by the First Defendant on the 5th of December 2017. On the 8th of December 2017, the Defendants deposited a total of 40 thousand dollars into their joint account at SCB through the CDM and on the 11th of December 2017, they deposited another 100 thousand dollars.

Aside from the cash deposits into the Defendants' local bank accounts, a substantial amount was also deposited into their children's accounts in local banks. Between the years 2001 to 2010, a deposit of 40 thousand 560 dollars 84 cents was made into the Second Defendants' joint account at Tabung Amanah Islam Brunei, TAIB with his son. However, this increased significantly to 118 thousand 991 dollars 90 cents between 2011 and 2017. Simon Farrell QC put forward the fact that the last deposit of 21 thousand 600 dollars on the 12th of December 2017 into the account was from the First Defendant's mother but this is unsupported by any documents or investigations.

Financial analyses to determine the Defendants' legitimate source of income discovered that there were no other incomes aside from their salary at the Judiciary Department and the 3 thousand dollars monthly received from the Second Defendants' father.

The Chief Special Investigator who analysed the car purchases made by the Defendants by way of cash between 2008 and 2017 found that between the Defendants bought cars every year and in total, there were 19 cars. She also noted a Mercedes that was paid for in cash on three occasions between July and November 2013 which the Defendant purchased for their daughter at 147 thousand 500 dollars.

The Defendants' lifestyles were also analysed. They frequently travelled to the United Kingdom, sometimes 2-3 times in a year. They travelled on business class which is approximately 6 thousand dollars on average per person.

Both the Defendants also claimed high volumes of tax refund. The tax refund applied for a shopping spree at Harrods London with total cost of approximately 64 thousand pounds and at Selfridges London amounting approximately 14 thousand pounds. These tax refunds were for a 2-week visit to the United Kingdom between the 26th of March 2016 to the 9th of April 2016.

The Defendants' daughter rented two properties in the United Kingdom, one in Coventry and another in Knightsbridge. The rental payments were made either by the First Defendant or the daughter herself through cheque. For the property in Coventry, a sum of 182 thousand 200 pounds was paid for the period between September 2011 to September 2019. On the other hand, 131 thousand 429 pounds was paid for the property in Knightsbridge between August 2015 to April 2018.

Investigations were also conducted into the Defendants' cash payment to their SCB credit card. Between 2011-2017 cash payment made by the First Defendant for her credit card was 274 thousand 450 dollars and the Second Defendant paid 183 thousand 501 dollars.

Simon Farrell QC cross-examined the investigating officer. One of the sources declared by the Defendants were from their respective parents but their parents were not interviewed or called in for investigations. The First Defendants' mother owns five rental properties and one school but these facts were not included in the witness's statement. The witness answered that the mother is not a sole owner of the school and even with that amount of property, it is unrealistic for the property to generate millions of dollars.

The Assistant Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau who heads the bureau's Investigation and Task Force testified in Court regarding the searches conducted in the beginning of January 2018. When asked by Simon Farrell QC on the sources of information received by the Anti-Corruption Bureau which led to the investigations of the Defendants, the witness informed that any such information are privileged information and the law does not allow for them to be disclosed.

A certified forensic examiner at IT Protective Security Services Sendirian Berhad, I.T.P.S.S was present in Court and testified that she had received from the Anti-Corruption Bureau a request for data acquisition on digital devices such as the Apple Macbook and Apple iMac.

Subsequent to the acquisition, a meeting was held between the witness and Anti-Corruption Bureau officers. The Anti-Corruption Bureau provided her with 10 keywords to narrow down her search including the word "fixed deposit". She managed to identify a large number of documents which were later narrowed down to 10 relevant documents and produced in Court. The Prosecution will continue to call its witnesses today.

Source: Radio Television Brunei